Pittsburgh doc: We’re in for a rough flu season

PITTSBURGH — Doctors are warning we’re in for a severe flu season this year and explained why more people — especially children — may be at risk.

Friday is the first full day of fall and some doctors said they are already seeing an increase in flu cases.

“Unfortunately, this year we are expecting to see our flu numbers go upward,” said Dr. Brian Lamb with Allegheny Health Network. “We expect it to be a rather severe season.”

This flu season is expected to be particularly bad because COVID-19 restrictions, like masking and social distancing, have eased, causing more people to be exposed to the flu than in the past two years. And, because fewer people got the flu, fewer people have developed an immunity to it, Lamb said.

Doctors also believe a so-called “twindemic” may be on the horizon.

“We are expected to see both COVID cases and flu cases rise in the fall,” said Lamb.

It’s hard to tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts said the easiest way to know is by taking a test. And if you test negative for both, it may be allergies.

Those with children need to be especially careful as kids have a higher risk of getting sick.

“Most kids have been wearing their masks in schools and there was a huge lapse when kids were together,” said Lamb. “So with schools back in session, a lot of them are not wearing masks and interacting a lot more. And you figure as a child, you really need to be exposed to some of these diseases to help build your immune system.”

Doctors say the best way to prevent illness is to get a flu shot and an up-to-date COVID-19 booster.