Flu cases expected to increase this flu season during the pandemic

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —As we enter the fall season, it also means the start of flu season.

Some health care experts are concerned about the flu and the common cold combining with high numbers of COVID-19 cases across the Cape Fear.

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Dr. Kristin Kirkland, a family physician at Promina Health, says  precautions like wearing masks, increased hand washing, and social distancing lowered the number of flu and common cold cases recorded last year.

With fewer people following these guidelines, Dr. Kirkland is concerned there will be more cases of both illnesses this year, along with the COVID-19 Delta variant.

“Last year, we definitely saw a decline in the numbers with the flu, and even with cold season, because of the COVID-19 precautions we were taking. This year’s a little different. A lot of folks are vaccinated which means we have more relaxed standards when it comes to wearing a mask, but I still encourage the public to continue to wear a mask indoors per the mandate,” said Dr. Kristen Kirkland.

Dr. Kirkland says along with an increase in cold or flu cases, they expect more patients to have anxiety about symptoms resembling COVID-19.

“It’s easy to worry about every sniffle, every cough, and it’s important that in this day and age that you have a primary care physician that you can trust when those moments happen,” said Dr. Kirkland.

Dr. Kirkland advises people to get vaccinated for both the flu, and COVID-19.

“We actually have a new recommendation from the CDC that says that concomitant flu and COVID shots, so taking it together, is safe and effective against both COVID and Flu. So if you haven’t been vaccinated, for either, I do recommend getting them both together, saving yourself the time and protect yourself against both,” said Kirkland.

Dr. Kirkland says people should follow the CDC’s guidance to prevent the spread of the flu and the coronavirus as we continue through the pandemic.

At Promina Health in Wilmington, Dr. Kristen Kirkland said she is accepting new patients at this time.