Double diagnosis worries doctors across the Sound

SEATTLE — Flu cases are on the rise across Washington, and doctors say it’s only a matter of time before a patient finds themselves infected with influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.

“We just don’t know how these viruses interact,” says Dr. Joshua Liao with the University of Washington.  “I think that somewhere between not having flu last year to learn from and having these new variants of covid, we have to be very careful about that.”

Dr. Liao adds the unvaccinated are at most risk should they contract both viruses simultaneously.

“People can become dually infected or super infected where one infection suppresses or weakens a person’s immune system and then another infection can take hold,” he said.

“Yeah, I think they are reasonably concerned about getting both together,” says Dr. Christopher Dale with Swedish.

He worries what could happen if flu cases start to rapidly increase

“If we were to add let’s say a very bad flu surge like we had back in 2009 with H1N1 that would tremendously overwhelm an already overburdened healthcare system,” Dale said.

The best way to prevent that from happening, both doctors say everyone should get vaccinated against both viruses.

“It’s definitely an important part of helping to serve our fellow human beings to get vaccinated for both flu and for covid,” Dale said.