An Echo Press Editorial: Be prepared for 'twindemic' this fall

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

Be prepared for a double-whammy this fall. Health experts say it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will be spreading at the same time, perhaps into the winter months.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk during this “twindemic.” To guard against COVID, there may be a vaccine on the horizon, but it’s not here yet. In the meantime, follow the safety precautions that by now, everyone should know by heart – practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands often and stay at home if you develop symptoms.

For influenza, the advice is simple: Get vaccinated. The vaccine can reduce your chances of getting sick and ending up in a hospital bed that may become scarce because of the surging number of COVID-19 cases.

Last week, the newspaper received a newsletter from the University of Minnesota that included an interview with Ann Philbrick, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy and the Medical School on the Twin Cities campus. Her expertise in pharmaceutical care encompasses routine immunizations, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), comprehensive medication management, medical cannabis, diabetes and hypertension.

Here are highlights from the interview that offer insights into the benefits of the flu vaccine:


Q: What is the purpose of the flu vaccine?

Prof. Philbrick: The flu vaccine contains inactive particles of the flu. When introduced into the body, the body develops an immune response to those particles to fight them off in the future.

Q: Who should get the flu vaccine?

Prof. Philbrick: Everyone ages six months and older should get the flu vaccine unless they have been told they should not by a medical provider. People with chronic medical conditions – such as diabetes – those who are pregnant, and those over 65 or younger than five years should really make an effort to get the flu vaccine annually.

Q: What are the health benefits of getting the flu vaccine?

Prof. Philbrick: It is important to get vaccines as recommended so you can protect yourself from the disease, but also protect those around you. Additionally, people who get the flu vaccine on a regular basis are less likely to get severe symptoms from the disease, should they happen to catch it.

Q: Where can people get the flu vaccine?

Prof. Philbrick: The two most common places to get routine vaccines are your primary physician’s office and at a community pharmacy. Sometimes workplaces will also have vaccination clinics, where they provide one type of vaccine to a lot of people. There are also a variety of types of flu vaccine, including the nasal vaccine and selections for adults over 65 years. Your physician or pharmacist should be able to tell you which is best for you and your health needs.


Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services extended the opportunity to pharmacists to vaccinate children age 3 and older with any indicated routine childhood vaccine. This action was taken in order to increase access to childhood vaccines.

Q: What else are you doing to further public understanding of routine vaccines?

Prof. Philbrick: I like to promote the pharmacist as a valuable vaccine resource as pharmacists can sometimes be more accessible than a patient’s primary care provider. At the University of Minnesota, I teach the next generation of pharmacists about vaccine-preventable diseases so they can become advocates.

What To Read Next
Get Local