By Maria Medina

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — While COVID cases tick upward there is a new concern as flu season approaches for a “twindemic.”

“I know that flu is coming back with a vengeance,” said University of California San Francisco Prof. of Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.

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Some parts of the U.S. are already seeing a significant rise in respiratory viruses as mask mandates were lifted. Now the nation is approaching its flu season, a virus more fatal to children than COVID-19 has proven to be.

“Influenza is a lot more deadly to the general population, and that’s expected to definitely roar back as we approach the winter,” Chin-Hong said. “This year I don’t really think that there’s any way out of not having a twindemic. It will be a localized twindemic.”

But some hospitals in the nation are worried about whether there will be enough hospital beds as they take in both COVID and flu patients.

One hospital in Franklin, Indiana is dealing with the most COVID patients since vaccines became available. Its staff has gone as far as transforming several former offices and storage rooms into patient rooms as they also prepare for a twindemic.

“What’s going to happen in a couple months when we’re typically busy,” said Johnson Memorial Health CEO and President David Dunkle.

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Last flu season in California, when the state went into lockdown and mask mandates were in place, the state reported one child death from the flu, and 47 adult deaths near the end of the flu season in April. Santa Clara County reported zero deaths.

Now compare that to the 2019-2020 flu season — before the pandemic — when the state reported 18 child deaths, and 706 adult deaths by March of last year.

“It’s pretty easy to get flu just like it is with COVID,” Chin-Hong said. “By the time the flu starts to emerge, mask mandates will probably be over because my prediction is (COVID cases) will probably decline very rapidly in the Bay Area because of our high COVID vaccination rates.”

But Chin-Hong advises to wear a mask and get the flu vaccine, which is now available, despite how COVID is behaving. He said there is a concern about this season’s flu vaccine efficacy since the concoction is typically based on flu seasons ahead of the U.S.

But cases had declined around the world, because of mask mandates and lockdowns. But Chin-Hong reiterated that getting the vaccine is better than not having any protection at all, and its efficacy like every year is always unknown until we are into the season.

“Wear your mask, and to have that as a culture, not just to protect against COVID,” he said.

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