Amarillo health experts expect cold and flu cases to rise once kids return to school

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Health experts in Amarillo believe what we learned during the pandemic will help during cold and flu season.

However, there is still potential for an increase in sickness this fall and winter.

As travel resumes, cases of the common cold and flu may rise.

“We’ve seen some people hospitalized with some more common respiratory viruses, but nothing that I would say is a trend right now. But certainly once we hit the fall and temperatures start dropping, that’s when the viruses become more active, and then as people move inside again because the weather starts to get cold again, that’s when the risk becomes widespread,” said Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Hospital.

The flu spreads on surfaces and in the air to other people, and as kids return to school in the fall, doctors say there’s a good chance it will spread.

“It is possible that we may have a significant flu season, both because we’re eager to get back and gather, and we might not be as cautious as we were in a pandemic year, but also because there’s not much background immunity to what might end up being a prominent circulating strain,” said Dr. Rodney Young, regional Chair and Family and Community Medicine at TTUHSC.

Our introduction to these strains is what helps us develop immunity, and Dr. Young says the biggest solution is getting vaccinated.

“Vaccines have been just miracles in how well they’ve work and how fantastic their safety profiles has been, and so these things really hold the promise of helping us get a handle both on the pandemic that we’re continuing to battle and also to decrease our risk of a secondary battle with a significant influenza season this fall,” said Dr. Young.

Amarillo health experts recommend to get your flu shot between late September and early October with flu season starting in September.

Dr. Weis also says what we’ve been doing throughout the pandemic will help keep the flu and common cold numbers from rising.

“I think we’re gonna see things go back to what they were before COVID with regard to children going to school being put at risk for getting these viruses, but I’m hoping that we learned some valuable lessons that there are ways we can try and protect ourselves. There are ways to limit the spread of these viruses, and that means, particularly, parents not sending children that are sick to school to possibly expose other kids,” said Dr. Weis.

Other strategies Dr. Weis recommends are keeping areas clean, washing your hands and social distancing.

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