The U.S. reached the grim pandemic milestone on Tuesday — amid growing concerns among medical professionals of a potential “perfect storm” for both COVID-19 and influenza infections as temperatures begin to dip in the Western Hemisphere.
Doctors have been advising that adults and children older than 6 months get a flu vaccine as soon as possible to reduce the risk of catching the flu and to reduce the severity of symptoms if a person does get infected.
Though the flu vaccine will not protect someone from being infected with COVID-19, experts say it will reduce the odds of someone contracting both viruses at the same time. Fewer influenza cases will also reduce the burden on an overtaxed health care system.
The U.S. has the highest cumulative number of COVID-19 cases worldwide — with more than 6.6 million infections — as well as fatalities. India and Brazil, which have the second- and third-highest cases globally, have reported over 5.5 million infections and over 4.5 million infections to date, respectively.
Globally, the COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 965,000. More than 31 million people have been infected worldwide.
Though the coronavirus is deadlier than the flu, both illnesses have similar symptoms, including fever, cough and body aches.
An estimated 1 billion people worldwide get the flu yearly. In the U.S., tens of millions of people are sickened with the flu every year.
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.
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