BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As the omicron variant of COVID-19 begins to surge, there’s another threat that is also circulating–the flu.
With both having many of the symptoms, health leaders are urging people to get tested and vaccinated before gathering with loved ones.
“Flu is out there, it’s coming, it’s getting higher and we need to protect ourselves and our family members just like COVID,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield, with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Positive influenza cases are continuing to pop up throughout the state, however, there is a particular mutation of the flu virus known as H3N2 that is raising some red flags.
“There was a study that was published in the northeast that showed a recent outbreak that the strain in the flu shot was not particularly matched in that particular outbreak,” said Stubblefield. “So, we’re not exactly sure if this will be the dominant strain that circulates, but the concern is that it wouldn’t provide as much protection from the flu shot because of the strain that is circulating.”
The ADPH is still highly encouraging people to roll up their sleeve to get their flu shot as it still protects you against four different strains of the flu.
“Also focus on the other things which would be the things we know work in terms of wearing a mask, spreading out all the things we would be recommending with COVID also works,” said Stubblefield.
If you are planning to gather with loved ones this week, getting tested would be another line of defense to help protect yourself and your loved ones from falling ill from the flu or COVID.
“If you have access to testing, test yourself before you go. The PCR is the best test, but you won’t get a result for two days,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UAB. “You could test yourself two days before you go and if you really want to be sure get a rapid test before you get together with people.”
Health leaders also urge parents with children under six months old, who are not eligible for a flu shot and those with children under the age of five, who are not eligible for a COVID vaccine to be extra cautious this holiday season as they are the most vulnerable.