OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Last year, influenza was almost nonexistent. The main reason for this was because we were all masked up and practicing social distancing guidelines.
However, it is expected to make a big return this year and is already beginning to show up in the area.
Flu season tends to be at its peak from December through February.
UNMC Professor and Chief of Infectious Disease, Dr. Mark Rupp, says he's worried this year's flu season could be the straw that breaks the camel's back for health care workers and providers.
Hospitals have already been near full capacity for the last few months. He says we are seeing Influenza A most commonly in the early stages of flu season, which tends to be more severe.
With hospital beds being taken it will be very difficult for hospitals to take care of emergency situations, like heart attacks, strokes, and motor vehicle accidents.
"It's critically important that everybody in the community does their part to try and maintain public safety,” Dr. Rupp said. “So, get your flu vaccine, get your COVID vaccine, do everything you can to keep yourself healthy and keep your family healthy, so that our hospitals are preserved then we're able to take care of people in their hours of need."
He says COVID and influenza are respiratory viral infections that overlap to a large degree, which is why testing for both is important because both have different treatments.
He is also concerned about the possibility of patients getting both COVID-19 and Influenza at the same time.
"It's very well described in the American Literature that you can have dual infection, and we didn't see this much last year because we just didn't have flu.,” Dr. Rupp said. “This year I'm very concerned that we may see patients with both of these respiratory viruses, and the information that we have back from 2020, when you have that combined infection outcomes tend to be worse."
Dr. Rupp says the best way to protect our health system, along with the community, it for everybody to get both their COVID and flu vaccines.