MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Experts warn we could see what they are calling a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and flu this coming winter.

Dr. Gerald Harmon with Tidelands Health is urging people not just to get a COVID vaccine but also a flu shot.

According to the CDC, nearly 194-million flu shots were distributed last year.
50% to 55% of adults got a flu shot last year which is 7% more than the year before.

As COVID cases continue to go up, Dr. Harmon said it may be possible to see a “twindemic” of flu and COVID.

“It’s possible to have more than one disease. You can have COVID with pneumonia, COVID with streptococcus and COVID with influenza. So, it is certainly possible to have both outbreaks of both diseases in the same season,” Dr. Harmon said.

As of last week, DHEC said there have been 196 people hospitalized for the flu this season and 20 deaths. Last year, South Carolina saw 141 deaths from the flu.

Dr. Paul Richardson with Conway Medical Center said there are many similarities between a cough, a cold, and other respiratory illnesses and of course COVID.

Dr. Richardson said physical distancing and wearing masks caused the 2020 flu season to stay low.

However, with loosened guidelines this year the flu and COVID may spread at the same time which is why doctors are using the term “twindemic.”

“We got to think what we were doing. We were wearing masks, we were definitely social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitizing and this kind of thing. That in my opinion contributed to the lack of flu cases as well. It wasn’t that the flu disappeared or anything. It’s just that folks were staying apart and weren’t really congregating in groups and being really mindful that if they were sick they were not going out,” Dr. Richardson said.

Dr. Richardson said he also encourages people to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza.