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Health Officials Concerned About Potential 'Twindemic' Of COVID-19, Flu This Winter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Health officials are concerned about the potential for a "twindemic" of the coronavirus and the flu this winter. They are urging people to get both vaccines.

Health officials say people should have already received their COVID-19 vaccine, but if not, the recommendation has now been updated and people can get both vaccinations for COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

"Right now, we are in the flu season," Acting Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said.

Pennsylvania health officials are urging people to get a flu shot. They're recommended for everyone six months and older.

Doctors say this year it's important to be vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19 to prevent the potential for a "twindemic," or outbreaks of both.

"This year, we are going to have COVID-19 and flu both circulating," Dr. Johnson said.

It's different from last year when there were only 4,000 influenza cases in Pennsylvania -- normally there are 131,000.

That's because last year, COVID-19 precautions -- like masking and social distancing -- were being strictly followed.

That's changed now, also causing concerns for New Jersey health officials.

"What's gonna happen this year? We really don't know. We're preparing for the worst, it could behave differently. People aren't wearing masks quite as much as they used to, we'll probably see more flu," Jefferson Health Infectious Disease Dr. Todd Levine said.

As colder weather approaches, there's fear that the flu could further burden hospitals still treating COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says getting protected from both viruses is crucial.

"If that means going in and getting the flu shot in one arm, the COVID shot in the other, that's perfectly fine," Dr. Fauci said.

Doctors hope the convenience of getting both shots in one visit will encourage more people to get protected.

"I would get the flu shot, I get it every year," nurse Marie Geubtner said.

Doctors say people should have their flu shot by the end of October to be protected before influenza starts circulating.

"So I did that booster too. I get all my boosters, all my shots all the time," vaccine recipient Mary Louise Pastorok said.

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