The CDC says this year’s flu season has been mild so far, possibly because more people are wearing masks and social distancing, but they worry we could still see a “twindemic,” where influenza and COVID-19 overwhelms our hospitals.
Lynette Delgadillo is a flu patient who nearly died from influenza and is now warning others to get the flu shot.
“My body started shutting down. I started getting severe body aches,” Delgadillo said.
Delgadillo, 33, from Bakersfield couldn’t believe the flu could attack her otherwise healthy body so severely last December that she had to be airlifted to Keck Hospital of USC and put into a coma.
“All my muscles in my body froze, so I had to start physical therapy to learn how to sit upright in bed and learn to walk again,” Delgadillo said.
After spending 6 months in the hospital, Delgadillo still suffers from complications, she requires oxygen, and has been unable to return to work as a phlebotomist.
She twice tested negative for COVID-19 and antibodies to the virus, but tested positive for multiple strains of influenza. She regrets not having gotten the flu shot and warns others to get it.
“I know there are so many doubters out there in the world — as much as I can show them, this is really no joke. Don’t take it as a joke — I would love to see that,” she said.
Dr. Anjali Mahoney, a family physician at Keck Medicine of USC Clinics, says she’s seeing less influenza cases this year, but Delgadillo’s severe case is an example of why it’s so important to get the flu vaccine, especially now.
“I think it’s important that people understand what we’re up against,” said Dr. Anjali Mahoney. “This year I’ve been telling people the last thing you want is to have COVID and the flu because they both do the same thing. They both can cause pneumonia and severe heart problems. Both can cause sepsis and have you in the hospital.”
Flu season usually peaks between December and February, so doctors are advising everyone to get the flu shot now and continue to wear masks and keep your distance to avoid getting sick.