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Flu Season 2020: Preparing for the Twindemic

October is the month that puts us squarely in the middle of fall. The chilly weather places us in close quarters indoors. Coughs and runny noses become the daily greetings in schools. This is a difficult time for caregivers to manage at the best of times. In the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an especially difficult time to negotiate.

At the time of writing this, there are 85 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide and 80,000 deaths. The CDC has predicted initial vaccine distribution by November. The actual implementation may take longer.

When sniffles are part of the fall norm, how do parents and primary caregivers negotiate this new twindemic terrain (the possibility of a severe flu season coinciding with a surge in COVID-19 cases)?

The following road map may help:

1. Take a deep breath. Most children do well with the coronavirus illness. There is an inflammatory condition that children may develop that is exceedingly rare. The greater concern is to prevent exposure to elderly and ill people.

2. Be mindful of the three key public health measures that have been drilled into our psyche – wash your hands, wear a mask and keep social distance.

3. If your child becomes ill, you have three choices. You could assume they have COVID-19 and choose to self isolate for fourteen days. You could get tested and, if the test is negative, isolate only until the symptoms have been gone for 24 hours. Finally, you could see your primary care provider and, if another explanation for the symptoms exists for the symptoms like an ear infection or strep throat, you could get treatment and stay home until after symptoms have resolved.

4. Finally seriously consider getting a flu shot. Eliminating the most anticipated strains of the flu this year will help to reduce illness all around and lessen one cause of potential symptoms.

Let us hope that the only reason we all feel unwell this October is a bit too much pumpkin spice and Halloween candy!

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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