As flu seasons near, public health officials are urging people to get the flu shot to avoid a possible twindemic that could push hospitals to the breaking point, The New York Times reported.

Health officials have warned that compounding a flu outbreak with the coronavirus pandemic could create a widespread outbreak, especially if large numbers of people don’t get the flu shot this year.

Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield wants companies to inoculate employees.  The agency is ordering 9.3 million flu shot doses, up from its previous order of 500,000 doses that typically are used for uninsured adults, the Times said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is also urging people to get the flu shot.

Fauci told Cardiology Magazine that while it is difficult to determine what the flu season will look like, he said, “The worst-case scenario is we have a very active flu season that overlaps with the respiratory infection of COVID-19. Worst-case because that would really complicate matters from a diagnostic standpoint, from a therapeutic standpoint, and the standpoint of putting a lot of stress on the health care system.”

Even a mild flu season such as the 2019-2020 could leave many people susceptible to worse COVID-19 symptoms or the possibility of having the coronavirus and the flu at the same time.

The CDC estimated that there are typically 39 million to 56 million cases of the flu each year, with up to 740,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 to 62,000 flu-related deaths. In comparison, there have been over 5.4 million positive cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., with over 170,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Another issue that could create havoc is how to administer the flu shot safely to people while preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Walgreens has announced that it is ramping up for more demand for the flu shot this year, with staff prepared to wear protective shields and masks to protect against the coronavirus.

Vaccine makers are also increasing their production with them projecting that a record 98 million flu shots will be needed in the U.S. this year, up 15% from last year. Drugmaker Sanofi is expected to announce that it will provide 15% more doses of a flu vaccine this year on Monday.

The CDC recommends that everyone over six months of age get the flu shot. Flu season typically runs from fall to winter.

flu shot The flu shot has poses a small risk of side effects that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said are typically mild. Photo: Tim Boyle/GETTY flu shot The flu shot has poses a small risk of side effects that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said are typically mild. Photo: Tim Boyle/GETTY