Will COVID-19 affect the common cold and flu season?

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Posted at 12:23 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 18:48:30-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As masks drop from more and more fully-vaccinated individuals and expiring mask mandates, despite public concern about a 'bad' year for the common cold and the flu, a Lexington doctor said, "only time will tell."

Family Practice Associates Physician Dr. Jeff Foxx spent three weeks on a ventilator last year but has been back treating patients for the past several months.

"As family doctors, we do see everything. We see coughs, colds, flus, pneumonia, blood pressure, diet, I mean we see it all including COVID," Dr. Foxx explained.

But in the last year, he explained, they did not see the flu or hardly any colds not associated with allergies.

"It was just almost non-existent and I think that was because everybody was paying attention to try to avoid infectious diseases, try to avoid COVID which also lead to less flu," Dr. Foxx said.

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That fact has some adults and parents concerned about the flu and cold season ahead but Dr. Foxx said he does not expect it to be worse than any other 'normal' year.

"I suspect we're going to see flu. Hopefully, it's not going to be any worse. Hopefully, people are now tuned in to, 'Hey if I get a COVID vaccine, why should I just go ahead and get a flu vaccine and if everybody gets their flu vaccine. You know, maybe we're not going to have such a, such a bad flu season,'" he explained.

Foxx said he thinks the pandemic taught valuable lessons that could help alleviate some spread of the common cold and flu

"People are also more in-tune to what it takes to avoid catching a virus, such as COVID and flu as a virus also so, maybe we're not gonna wear a mask avoid the flu, but at least we're going to pay attention to social distancing, we're going to pay attention to hand washing," he said.

"I don't think the flu this fall is going to have any relation to what happened to us and COVID and social distancing and masking and avoiding infectious disease," said Foxx. "I think the flu mutates independently. And, we have good years of flu, we have bad years of the flu and in between, we have a pandemic."

For parents concerned their children lost a year of immunity, Dr. Foxx said he would not be very concerned about that.

"I would be just concerned as usual. Okay?" he assured. "You may be a little bit more in-tune in terms of hygiene, in terms of hand washing; social distancing. If your child's sick, keep them home. Okay, people are not going to be more in tune to managing infectious disease, but I don't think there's any reason to be overly concerned about going back in the fall, from any other time."