By Dr. Max Gomez

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brace yourselves; the flu and COVID-19 will likely hit at the same time this fall and winter, setting the stage for a potential twindemic.

That could not just be a health threat for individuals; it could create a threat for doctors, hospitals and overwhelmed health care facilities.

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As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports, it doesn’t have to happen that way.

It was around this time, or a little later, last year that we were warned of an impending twindemic. COVID was peaking at the same time as the flu season was about to get underway. Worse, no COVID vaccine had yet been given emergency use authorization, so we had no way to combat the pandemic, although we still had the seasonal flu vaccine to help fight half the twindemic.

Actually, we did have one way to battle COVID, one that turned out to be pretty effective — mask wearing. In fact, the flu season last year was the smallest on record, thanks to mask wearing and the fact that many of us were socially isolating indoors.

COVID VACCINE

So what about this COVID-flu season?

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CBS This Morning medical editor Dr. David Agus said that you should get both vaccines, although we don’t yet know whether we should get them at the same time.

“Probably separate them from a week or two if you can. If logistically it’s too hard, it’s probably OK. What you’re worried about is the side effects of both of theme,” he said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Ideally, because flu shot immunity is thought to provide about six months of protection, you could delay your flu shot until the end of September to cover all of flu season.

More importantly, though, is the fact that a third COVID booster shot will protect somewhat against the Delta variant.

“To really give us four- to ten-fold increase in immunity and protect us from the Delta variant and any new ones that are coming,” Agus said.

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Also good news is that it’s very possible that by next flu season, there will be a combination flu and COVID vaccine, so those of you who have needle phobia will only have to get one shot.

Dr. Max Gomez