LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Doctors at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences say this year’s flu season could be one of the worst they’ve seen in a while. 

The season coupled with covid hospitalizations, Dr. Robert Hopkins says is the recipe for ‘a perfect storm.’ 

Hopkins says last year, UAMS saw low flu numbers. He says it was good for doctors in 2020, but could be the reason for a busy 2021. 

“People not being exposed to influenza last year means that our immune protection against flu is going to be less,” Hopkins said. 

Hopkins also says this could be worse than years prior because more people are letting their guard down when it comes to taking precautions for COVID-19. 

“We are seeing people back to more frequent travel,” Hopkins said. “You go out in the community [and] you rarely see people wearing a mask now.”

Hopkins says last year people were more cautious about going out in public and wore masks, which helped stop the spread of all viruses. 

Maryal Vaden lives in Little Rock and is seven months pregnant. Vaden says she has had to be cautious about getting sick during her pregnancy. 

“It has honestly been scary,” Vaden said. 

Vaden says she got vaccinated for COVID-19 and plans to do the same for the flu. 

“It’s just extra precautions to keep me safe,” Vaden said. 

Hopkins is hoping more will follow Vaden’s lead and get the flu shot as soon as they can. 

“The best way to prevent flu illness is to prevent flu all together,” Hopkins said.   

He says if flu season goes the way he thinks it will, it will cause more strain on the healthcare system. 

“You put those two together, along with short staff and tired staff and we have real potential for a problem,” Hopkins said.