Winter 2021 COVID Flu Update from Complete Health Partners.
With a new strain of COVID-19 circulating and an influx of positive flu tests at our clinics, it is a good time to update Nashville about this winter’s COVID and flu seasons as well as how we at Complete Health Partners Urgent Care Clinics are responding to this year’s possible “twindemic.” See below for a full Winter 2021 COVID Flu Update.
Nashville’s Flu Season 2021-2022
Last year our Nashville urgent care clinics saw very few cases of the flu. We believe this was due to continued COVID-19 protocols such as masking, physical distancing and reduced holiday interaction. Kids were out of school and most holiday gatherings and travel were cancelled. This year, however, with COVID vaccinations in arms and eased COVID restrictions across the world, we are seeing flu cases rise after Thanksgiving as they traditionally do. While circulation is not quite as high as a pre-pandemic year, positivity is rising both globally and nationally.
According to the CDC flu view, the current predominant flu strain is H3N2, a type of Type A flu virus, and it mostly infecting younger adults and children. It is very important this year, and every year, to get your flu shot to protect against both getting and spreading the flu to others. Complete Health Partners offers flu shots for those 12 and older at all of our Nashville urgent care clinics.
Traditional treatment for the flu is one of two antivirals, Tamiflu or Xofluza. Both of these antivirals should be started as soon as possible after a positive flu test for the the best reduction of flu symptoms.
What’s happening with COVID in Nashville?
While we all were hoping that COVID-19 might take a winter vacation to allow us a close-to-normal holiday season, the world is seeing and increase in COVID-19 cases from both a new wave of Delta and the newly discovered COVID-19 variant, dubbed Omicron. According to scientists at our Tennessee state lab, there has been a new spike in COVID cases since Thanksgiving, and these cases have been typed as Delta. As of December 3, no Omicron cases had been identified publicly in Tennessee. Omicron is circulating within the United States, so it is fair to assume cases will begin to show up here in Nashville in the near future – there will just be some delay in finding and typing them.
The Omicron variant has a lot of mutations making it quite different from the original COVID-19 strains, however scientists are optimistic that the COVID-19 vaccines will offer some protection from this variant. The biggest questions concerning our urgent care doctors at this time are whether the Omicron variant will be more contagious, cause more severe disease, or evade either natural immunity from infection or vaccination. These factors, severity, transmissibility, and immune evasion, will determine whether Omicron is “worse” than Delta or, as we all are hoping, will be a less severe strain than Delta. We also need to better understand whether vaccines and current treatments for COVID-19 such as monoclonal antibodies will work against the Omicron variant.
How is Complete Health Partners fighting COVID-19 and the Flu in Nashville?
We at Complete Health Partners closely follow the data coming from the CDC, the State of Tennessee as well as world virology experts to help prepare ourselves for both flu and COVID-19 waves. Our drive-through COVID-19 evaluation facility in West Nashville remains open for service to Nashvillians, and those who choose to visit our newest Hendersonville location can be evaluated and treated curbside.
The Newest Technology
As we have prepared for winter, we brought on a new tool to help us combat both flu and COVID-19 in Nashville. Our newest COVID-19 test is not only rapid, but also tests for the flu at the same time as COVID-19. Those with symptoms of respiratory illness will be evaluated by a provider and receive a single swab that will offer a 15 minute result for both illnesses. This will be imperative for those who need to start flu antivirals or go on to receive monocolonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. In some rare cases patients have had both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, and this is very important information to know.