When most of us don’t need another thing to worry about during the current omicron surge, along comes “flurona,” what’s been described as simultaneous infection with COVID-19 and influenza. But here’s a glimmer of good news: So far, flurona cases appear to be fairly uncommon in Chicago, says Michael Lin, MD, MPH, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Rush University Medical Center.
“We haven’t seen significant flu activity in the Chicago region, and that seems to be backed up by CDC data,” Lin says, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “While some states have had high or very high flu activity, our flu activity in Illinois has been in the low to moderate range.”
Several months of flu season still ahead
Even though flu activity in Illinois has been relatively low, it’s important to remember that the flu season is just getting started, and catching both viruses at the same time is possible.
“That’s because the flu and COVID tend to spread in similar conditions, namely indoors in crowded areas,” Lin says.
What you can do
The 2020–2021 flu season was the mildest on record, in large part because of COVID mitigation efforts. “Face masking, social distancing and hand hygiene played a major role,” Lin says.
Lin advises Chicagoans to maintain these good habits from last season and get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu. The CDC recommends that people stay “up to date” on their COVID-19 vaccinations (meaning being fully vaccinated and boosted if they are eligible). Anyone 12 and older who received the Pfizer series at least five months ago should get boosted. Adults 18 and older who received the Moderna vaccines also should get boosted if they completed their shots at least five months ago, while adults who had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster at least two months after their shot.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for anyone six months and older. You don’t need to make separate appointments for your shots: Flu and COVID-19 shots can be given at the same time, Lin says.