Federal health officials expect that flu season will bring new health risks to the elderly and others susceptible to severe COVID-19.
“The real risk is that we’re going to have two circulating respiratory pathogens at the same time,” Robert Redfield, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Time magazine. In high-risk groups “we know flu by itself can cause substantial morbidity and mortality and hospital utilization,” he said. “[T]his could be really a very, very difficult situation.”
The agency is moving to ensure an ample supply of influenza vaccines, Redfield told a Congressional committee in early June. The effort is an attempt to head off what could be an overwhelming wave of flu and COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases plans to campaign for more Americans to get their shots, according to its Medical Director, William Schaffner, M.D.
“We are going to try to encourage people, urge them, implore them even, to come out and roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated so we can mitigate the impact of this season of viral attack,” he told The Hill.
Pharmacy chains and public health agencies such as CVS Health Corp and Rite Aid Corp are also planning to heavily promote flu vaccinations this year, according to Reuters.
Redfield told Time that he has become increasingly optimistic about COVID-19 vaccine availability. There is a “real probability” that one or more vaccines could be ready by late 2020 or early 2021, he said.
Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the nation might see up to 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day if the outbreak’s current trajectory is not changed.