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Health News Florida
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Florida Health Experts Urge Caution To Prevent 'Twindemic' Of Flu And COVID-19

Syringe held by gloved hands.
ISTOCK
Doctors are calling on Floridians to get flu shots to curb that virus' spread as the community battles COVID-19.

Coronavirus prevention measures likely contributed to historically low transmission of the flu in Southern Hemisphere countries this year. Doctors in Florida hope the same thing happens here.

Some health experts are warning of a "twindemic" as winter approaches with the flu spreading at the same time as the coronavirus.

So far in Florida, doctors say the flu hasn't had much of a presence, and some hope safety measures in place to prevent COVID-19 will help keep things that way.

Dr. Manuel Gordillo, medical director of infection control and prevention at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said promising signs are coming from Southern Hemisphere countries like Australia and New Zealand.

Their winter is during our summer, and flu transmission was historically low this year as they battled the coronavirus.

“And this is attributed to social distancing, physical distancing, hand hygiene and mask use, and on top of that, all those countries did a lot of promotion of influenza immunization,” Gordillo said.

Gordillo warns if Floridians don't model those behaviors, then both viruses could spread through communities. This would pose challenges as the two are difficult to tell apart.

He's urging everyone to keep up with coronavirus prevention efforts and to get a flu vaccine.

While flu shots won’t protect people from the coronavirus, curbing the spread of the flu can help prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed.

Gordillo said that will be crucial as the nation awaits a COVID-19 vaccine.

Like many people around the world, he celebrated the recent promising announcement from Pfizer that early data about its vaccine suggests it is more than 90 percent effective.

Gordillo said those are great results, but that there is a lot more work to do.

Once a vaccine is available, he said Florida will face distribution challenges and other hurdles.

“Vaccine hesitancy, opposition to vaccines,” he said. “You know we need to do a better job in messaging people and explaining how this vaccine is safe, how this vaccine has been developed using the best technology, the best science.”

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