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Local experts are ‘concerned’ about upcoming flu season

Current flu trends in Australia and post-COVID actions point toward the possibility of having a ‘twindemic.’

BOISE, Idaho — This year’s flu season might be a rough one – with local experts predicting a ‘twindemic.’

Sarah Wright, Central District Health epidemiologist, said they are never quite sure how the flu season will pan out.

“Trying to predict infectious disease is a little bit like trying to predict the weather,” she said.

Looking at other countries in the southern hemisphere and their experiences can be a good indicator since their seasons are opposite of ours. Wright said Australia just went through its worst flu season in the past five years, meaning a “twindemic” might be on the horizon.

“We’re concerned that we will see those same trends here in the United States,” Wright said. “They also have been having increased COVID numbers.”

Dr. Patrice Burgess, Saint Alphonsus executive medical director, said she agrees.

“We know that our vulnerable population or elderly, our very young, and people with immune conditions are going to be more at risk,” Dr. Burgess said.

The U.S. has had a very mild flu season the past two years because of people wearing masks, avoiding large crowds and exercising other COVID-19 mitigation methods, according to Dr. Burgess.

As a result, she said the flu “didn’t really propagate very much.”

“Between vaccination and having the flu, there is some kind of immunity that develops,” Dr. Burgess said. “We didn't really get that chance these last couple of years.”

Although washing your hands, wearing masks and avoiding large crowds are all effective preventative measures, Wright said the number one to remain healthy is getting vaccinated.

Something she said not all people are in favor of.

“People are getting a little vaccine weary,” she said,” where they’re saying, ‘I’ve had three vaccines this year.' But they are really the best way to train your immune system. So, getting one or two pokes is much better than getting the flu and COVID at the same time.”

People can expect an uptick in flu cases in the coming weeks, Dr. Burgess said.

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