By Rachael Cardin

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A local biology expert said health officials fear a ‘twindemic’ this year with sickness plaguing Americans, whether it be coronavirus or influenza.

“Many places have hospitals that are already overrun with Covid cases so if we add all those flu cases to that it could be a huge problem for the economy, for communities, for doctors, for hospitals everywhere,” said Dr. Christopher Thompson, Assoc. Professor of Biology at Loyola University

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Right now, he said Maryland hospitals are doing OK, but other parts of the country are feeling overwhelmed.

Dr. Thompson suggests people get vaccinated against both viruses.

“It does seem odd that we have all these vaccines for things that attack our lungs and give us fevers and coughs and some similar symptoms, but they are very different viruses,” Dr. Thompson said.

Though the side effects of the flu are similar, sometimes identical to those of COVID-19, Dr. Thompson said they are indeed two very different viruses and therefore need their own protective vaccine.

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“They are two very different things they both attack our lungs but they caused different diseases,” Dr. Thompson said. “Normally the flu kills about 36,000 people a year.”

You might have noticed that last year’s flu numbers were extremely low, but Dr. Thompson said much of that can be attributed to the restrictions in place. Americans were more careful, he said, wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands.

Dr. Thompson said now that more and more people are back to work the flu season might be more severe than last year.

Statistically mild flu seasons are followed by more severe ones, and people often get sick between October and March. “Virologists refer to the flu as the worst Christmas gift you could ever get, we tend to see it peak right after Christmas time,” Dr. Thompson said.

Darian Nolin, who works at Total Health Care in Baltimore, said people can even get both shots at once; “It’s available right here, now. I can get both and it is safe to receive both at the same time, so individuals are looking for that as a convenient thing.”

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Shameka McFadden, who lives in Baltimore, stopped into a clinic Thursday; “I’m here for my Covid vaccine,” she told WJZ. She said, ‘”I got my flu shot two months ago with my son and then my Covid shot, this is my first one.”

Rachael Cardin