Q&A: The Threat of a ‘Twindemic’ with Flu and COVID-19 – Duke Today

by | Oct 19, 2022 | COVID-19

Influenza season is here, and the COVID-19 virus is still a threat, so now is the time to act to stay healthy this winter, according to Dr. Kristen Said, Assistant Director of Duke’s Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW) and an Occupational and Environmental physician and assistant professor  in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.
The best way to act is by getting vaccinated against the flu and getting the new bivalent COVID-19 booster.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza activity begins in October and peaks between December and February. Meanwhile, the CDC also rates the threat risk of COVID-19 in Durham County as low, but the next several months could present a challenge.
“We’re not back to normal yet,” Dr. Said said.
Duke staff and faculty can get both the influenza vaccine and the bivalent COVID-19 booster at no cost through Duke. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, 1,058692 Americans, including 26,885 people in North Carolina, have died from the virus.  
Working@Duke caught up with Dr. Said to ask about the importance of the bivalent COVID-19 booster, the influenza vaccine, and how we can stay safe this winter.
What makes the bivalent COVID-19 booster important?
Available since September, the new bivalent COVID-19 booster is recommended by the CDC for people over the age of 5. But according to recent data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, just 7 percent of North Carolina adults who received the initial COVID-19 vaccine have received the new bivalent booster.
Dr. Said points out that there are multiple reasons why the new booster is a crucial step toward guarding against COVID-19’s evolving threat.
“The first COVID vaccines were for the original strain of COVID which was circulating at the time the vaccine was developed back in 2020,” Dr. Said said. “The current booster is a bivalent vaccine, which mea …

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