MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Flu season officially begins in October but local doctors report seeing double infections of the flu and COVID-19 in children.
“We get about three or four positive with both a week right now,” said Dr. Marc Bahan, a pediatrician for Conway Medical Center.
DHEC and pediatricians are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated against influenza. Some doctors are wary of a ‘twin-demic’ as COVID-19 cases in children are also on the rise.
Bahan is worried the upward trend may continue and urges parents to take action.
“You can never be too careful. It’s still there,” said Bridgette Hilbert, a Horry County Schools parent. She said she and her son will get the flu shot again this year.
“I just feel like the flu vaccine is the next best thing,” Hilbert said. “It’s the next level of defense even though COVID and the flu are different they have similar aspects to one another,” she said.
COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms like fever, cough, and sore throat. Last flu season, SCDHEC reported 233 flu cases across South Carolina. That relatively low number, doctors believe, was due to social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing.
Bahan said the lack of mask mandates in schools is contributing to the rise in covid cases and may increase flu cases this season.
As doctors are overwhelmed with the COVID-19 fight, he highly recommends kids wear their masks and get the flu vaccine.
“It’s kind of a nervous time. We will make it through it,” Bahan said. “I certainly don’t want anyone’s child struggling unnecessarily,” he said.
As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, he’s worried that hospitals won’t have the capacity to treat flu patients.
“Certainly if we have the increased number of hospitalizations that we normally would’ve had with flu season – with people not social distancing right now- I dont think we’re going to have the room in the hospital. We’re full. The ICUs are full,” Bahan said.
DHEC officials recommend kids 6 months and older can get the flu vaccine, which is already available at Conway Medical’s provider offices.