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COVID precautions may mean fewer flu fatalities in Alabama


Precautions against COVID-19 may be making the annual flu season less deadly in Alabama.

Health care providers are continuing to press the message about wearing face masks and social distancing to help avoid the coronavirus. These actions as well as washing your hands frequently are also recommended ways to keep from catching influenza.

Dr. Jane Weida teaches family medicine at the University of Alabama. She said Alabama’s flu case numbers before and during the COVID outbreak are dramatic.

“It’s quite a bit different. If you look back at last year in the entire flu season there were ninety seven flu deaths. The year before there were 260-some. This year we’ve had one flu death. So, it’s quite a bit less,” she said.

Weida said these reports of few flu deaths are also helping to convince patients who are leery of getting an annual flu shot to change their minds.

“I think they are. And, in fact, I’ve been able to convince some people who haven’t had the flu shot in the past to go ahead and get it this year, because we’ve told them if you get COVID and flu at the same time, it can’t be good,” she said.

APR previously reported about the concerns of healthcare providers that contracting both COVID-19 and flu at the same time leads to similar symptoms like respiratory problems and pneumonia, which can make COVID harder to diagnose. Also, while there’s a flu vaccine readily available, supplies of COVID vaccines are in short supply and most Americans are having to wait to get a shot against the coronavirus.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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