PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — COVID-19 cases in the Philadelphia region are trending down, but influenza is on the rise. There’s a new warning from Pennsylvania health officials who say not enough people have gotten their yearly flu shots.
Flu cases were down dramatically last year when we were in the grips of COVID restrictions, but doctors say people aren’t as precautious now, giving rise to the potential for what’s being called a twindemic.READ MORE: Gov. Phil Murphy Orders Increased Law Enforcement Presence At New Jersey Schools Following Tragic Texas School Shooting
It’s been called “flurona,” not a new virus but a combination of being infected with COVID and the flu at the same time.
“Remember the flu vaccine doesn’t protect you against COVID and the COVID vaccine doesn’t protect you against the flu, you need both,” Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said.
State health officials in Norristown at a Montgomery County vaccine site urged people to get shots for both COVID and influenza on Thursday.
COVID numbers across Pennsylvania have started to drop a little, but they are still very high. Flu cases are up from this time last year, when COVID precautions were high and health officials are concerned because the number of people getting flu shots is down.
“This is discouraging since we’re seeing significantly higher cases this season. The good news is it’s not too late to get your flu vaccine,” Deputy Secretary for Health Preparedness and Community Protection Ray Barishansky said.READ MORE: Baby Formula Shipment On Way To Nestle Facility Outside Allentown
The state doesn’t track the number of people infected with COVID and flu at the same time, but they’re both seasonal viruses that are circulating widely now.
“We see people traveling more and getting into larger groups and more congregated settings, and so we expect the cases of respiratory infections and influenza will rise,” family medicine physician Dr. Neha Vyas said.
Doctors say the only way to know for sure what you’re infected with is to be tested because COVID-19 and the flu can have similar symptoms including fever, fatigue, headaches, body aches and chills.
One important difference is the loss of smell and taste associated with COVID.
“Getting sort of a double whammy of both viruses is something none of us need,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said.
In addition to getting COVID and flu vaccines, doctors say masks can also help prevent both of those illnesses.MORE NEWS: 23-Year-Old Man Killed While Walking His Dog In Philadelphia's Kensington Neighborhood, Police Say