Remember the flu? Yep, it’s that time again

Photo of a sick senior woman in bed at home, sneezing and blowing her nose.

Perhaps the flu isn’t your prime precedence for the time being. That’s comprehensible. However flu season is simply across the nook and it’s time to prepare.

Don’t let final 12 months’s flu season idiot you. Sure, it was a significant nonevent — a “nondemic,” you would possibly say. But it surely’s exhausting to foretell how unhealthy this coming flu season shall be. The COVID-19 pandemic that rages on is greater than sufficient to take care of medically. Including even a median flu season on prime of that’s price some severe concern.

What occurred with flu final 12 months?

The 2020–21 flu season was remarkably gentle. The truth is, it was record-setting: in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), fewer than 1% of flu exams carried out by US medical labs had been optimistic, totaling just one,675 circumstances nationwide. By comparability, 26% to 30% of exams had been optimistic for flu throughout different latest flu seasons. Hospital admissions attributable to flu had been the bottom counted since 2005. And whereas annual pediatric deaths attributable to flu since 2004 vary between 37 and 199, the CDC acquired just one report of a pediatric flu demise final 12 months.

Thank goodness. As we entered flu season final fall, we feared it will be a “twindemic,” with scores of individuals sick and dying from COVID-19, influenza, or each on the identical time. Whereas COVID-19 took a horrible toll, at the least there wasn’t a second viral contagion to cope with.

Will flu season be gentle once more this 12 months?

That’s troublesome to foretell. Two possible explanation why we obtained off really easy final 12 months are:

  • Methods really helpful to cease the unfold of COVID-19, reminiscent of
    • masking
    • bodily distancing and avoiding crowds
    • hand washing
    • college closures
    • lowered journey.
  • A report flu vaccination charge. Practically 194 million doses of flu vaccine had been shipped out final 12 months; by comparability, during the last decade, between 110 million and 175 million doses had been distributed yearly.

An intriguing, although unproven, chance is that getting COVID-19 would possibly scale back an individual’s threat for getting the flu. This is named viral interference. At the very least one research discovered proof of the alternative interplay: the prospect of testing optimistic for COVID-19 an infection was decrease amongst folks testing optimistic for flu.

How must you put together for flu season this 12 months?

As flu season approaches, some issues shall be totally different from final 12 months:

  • You will get examined for COVID and flu on the identical time. Happily, cases of simultaneous an infection look like uncommon.
  • You will get COVID and flu vaccinations on the identical time. Final 12 months, specialists suggested avoiding any vaccination inside 10 days of the COVID vaccine, but it surely’s now thought-about secure to get them concurrently — so get them!
  • An earlier and extra extreme flu season is feasible. Fewer flu infections final 12 months means fewer folks grew to become resistant to some strains of the flu that might assist defend them this 12 months. As well as, fewer optimistic samples had been accessible to information the event of this 12 months’s vaccine.
  • Masking could also be extra widespread. In earlier flu seasons, it was uncommon to see somebody sporting a face overlaying. Masks sporting, which protects in opposition to many airborne microbes, might change into far more widespread in future flu seasons, as so many people have change into accustomed to it.

And a few issues would be the identical:

  • Timing. September and October are good instances to get your flu vaccination. The sooner within the fall you get it, the higher.
  • Prevention. In case you’re sick, masks up, keep away from others, and keep house from college or work. Attempt to keep away from those that are sick. Wash your fingers continuously.
  • Therapy.Flu remedies are unchanged, however they have an inclination to work finest when began early. Know the signs of the flu (which may overlap with signs of COVID-19) and call your physician promptly when you suppose you might need both.

The underside line

When you have questions or issues about learn how to stop the flu and what to do when you get it, don’t let misinformation jeopardize your well being. Get correct data from dependable sources: speak to your physician or pharmacist, or take a look at suggestions from the CDC, the FDA, or the World Well being Group.

The message for this 12 months’s flu season is essentially the identical as in earlier years: get vaccinated and take steps to cut back your threat of publicity. But the COVID-19 pandemic, and what we discovered from final 12 months’s flu season, make it much more essential to take that message to coronary heart.

Observe me on Twitter @RobShmerling

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