Health officials are warning that an influenza COVID “twindemic” could overwhelm health systems if preventive measures are ignored.
William Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University, is quoted by NPR as saying, “This could very well be the year in which we see a twindemic. That is, we have a surge in COVID and simultaneously an increase in influenza. We could have them both affecting our population at the same time.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations occur each year because of the flu. In New Mexico, and across the country, flu cases dropped significantly in 2020-21 compared to previous years, largely due to behavior changes like wearing masks, social distancing and staying home when sick.
The New Mexico Department of Health website says there were zero adult influenza deaths in the state in 2020-21 compared to 62 adult influenza deaths in 2019-20.
The state health department does not have influenza hospitalizations numbers for the 2020–21 time frame, but the department’s website says there are currently 100 people hospitalized across the state due to COVID-19.
Officials warn that children are especially vulnerable and tend to carry germs and viruses home from schools and other places. The CDC and New Mexico’s health department recommend getting flu shots and COVID booster shots before a potential surge in cases occurs.
COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online and over the phone for individuals and their dependents at vaccinenm.org. The following locations advertise free flu and COVID booster shots in Albuquerque’s far Northeast Heights:
- Walmart Pharmacy: 8000 Academy Road NE. COVID booster and flu shots are available. Call 505-821-6008 to make an appointment or schedule one through the NMDOH website at cv.nmhealth.org.
- Smith’s Pharmacy: 7521 Carmel Ave. NE snf 5850 Eubank Blvd. NE. COVID booster and flu shot are available. Schedule an appointment at smithsfoodanddrug.com/rx/guest/get-vaccinated.
- Albertsons Pharmacy: 2801 A Eubank Blvd. NE. Up to five vaccines can be scheduled at once, including COVID-19 (ages 18-plus) and influenza (ages 3-plus) vaccines. Schedule an appointment online at albertsons.com/vaccinations.