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World NewsRising flu cases threaten hospital capacity as Covid surges into holidays

Rising flu cases threaten hospital capacity as Covid surges into holidays

Emergency Room nurses and EMTs are likely to sufferers in hallways on the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital on August 18, 2021 in Houston, Texas.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Flu cases are on the rise within the United States. That might put strain on hospitals already battling a surge of Covid.

The so-called “twindemic” — what public well being specialists have dubbed the mixture of influenza and Covid — might speed up throughout vacation gatherings this week.

“The most significant problem we are facing is a complete overwhelm of our health care capacity,” mentioned Shira Shafir, an epidemiology professor on the University of California, Los Angeles.

“When we have Covid transmitting, plus flu, plus all the other things for which someone might need to go to the hospital … we potentially no longer have the ability to provide care to all of those individuals,” Shafir added.

Hospital admissions for the flu are up practically 34% over the previous week, reaching a seven-day common of practically 250 per day as of Thursday, in keeping with knowledge from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Average each day admissions by no means topped 125 final flu season.

About 8,400 sufferers with Covid have been admitted to U.S. hospitals every day on common over the previous week, the info exhibits, up 5% from every week in the past however decrease than the delta wave’s peak stage of greater than 12,000 each day admissions over the summer time.

Last yr, the U.S. had just about no flu season as public well being protocols to gradual the transmission of the coronavirus additionally prevented the unfold of influenza, Shafir mentioned. Flu cases reached an all-time low final season, in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu season got here again as U.S. officers have relaxed restrictions such as mask-wearing and restricted gatherings with Covid vaccines obtainable this yr.

That means Americans could have decreased immunity in opposition to influenza, the CDC mentioned earlier this fall.

Scientists design flu vaccines annually to match which strains they predict will probably be most typical. Less knowledge from final yr means this yr’s shot is a poor match, scientists have said.

“We do expect that people will have less protection against the flu than they would have in a normal flu situation because we did not have a flu season last year,” Shafir mentioned. “That does leave people particularly vulnerable to influenza this year.”

About 48% of U.S. adults have obtained a flu vaccine, in keeping with a CDC survey performed between Dec. 2 and Dec. 13. Another 9.5% mentioned they plan to get it.

Projected whole vaccine protection for the 2021-22 flu season is 57.2%, the company mentioned, up 3.4 proportion factors from the reported vaccination fee final season.

“The concerning part is the immunization rates against flu for this time of year are significantly down from where they usually are this time of year, as we move into this holiday gathering period,” mentioned Dr. Jim Conway, medical director for the immunization program on the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health.

Holiday gatherings

The holidays might exacerbate the unfold of influenza as people experiencing signs who take a look at adverse for Covid could proceed with gatherings and transmit the flu, in keeping with Shafir.

“Even if someone has a negative Covid test, they still could have something else that they could transmit to the people in their lives,” Shafir mentioned.

The epidemiologist really helpful people experiencing signs like a cough, sore throat or runny nostril keep at house. Mask sporting, air flow and, if doable, gathering open air are methods that might assist gradual unfold, she mentioned.

Health officers additionally suggest Covid vaccines and booster doses, as effectively as the flu shot to assist shield people. The quickly spreading omicron variant of Covid has propelled the surge in cases, however analysis has proven that it’s not as extreme as different variants. Vaccines and boosters provide heightened safety, research have proven.

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