TAMPA, Fla. — Wearing masks, keeping our distance, and washing our hands — all of those mitigations really did keep us from a 2020 flu season.
“Now we’re already seeing the beginning of the flu season,” said Dr. Juan Dumois, a Pediatric infectious diseases physician at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.
The numbers add up, too. For instance, in Pinellas County during the last week of December 2021, about 1% of people diagnosed with the flu checked into the ER. For the same week in 2020, it was .1%. But, it’s worth noting this season isn’t as severe as 2019 during that same week where the percentage of ER visits for flu was significantly higher at 5.5%.
“That may be in part the effect of some people being careful, some people are masking, and some people have gotten the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Dumois.
In South Florida, hospitals have already seen what some call cases of “flurona” in children where they have both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
Dr. Dumois said kids who get more than one virus at the same time aren’t uncommon.
“In rare occasions, I’ve seen five different viruses detected in the same child. Usually, a kid who was in daycare,” he said.
But having both COVID and the flu, viruses that tend to attack the respiratory system can be especially dangerous in kids under 2, Dumois said. They’re just as likely to be hospitalized as a person over the age of 65.
“When the immune system starts fighting a virus in the respiratory system in the lungs, that attack causes an inflammatory reaction that results in a production of more mucus in the lungs,” he said.
Which could lead to a harder time breathing and less oxygen in the blood.
He said parents should vaccinate their kids against the flu if they can and vaccinate everyone around them like babysitters and grandparents. And, when it comes to play dates, talk to the other parents about whether their kid is sick or has symptoms.