It’s time to get the flu shot
Last fall, with coronavirus cases on the rise and the world hoping for vaccines, health experts feared that influenza and Covid-19 would combine to lead to a devastating “pandemic.”
While epidemiological measures appeared to prevent influenza, experts are concerned again this year, especially since some states and state authorities backing down closing rules. Many officials and experts are urging the public to: Don’t rule out the risk of flu, and ask for a flu shot.
“We’re guaranteed to get the flu this year, and we’ll have a version of a double pandemic,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “It can really strain a highly stretched healthcare system, stress and fatigue to the bone.”
The United States is grappling with average Over 160,000 new Corona virus cases daily. Hospitals and intensive care units full of covid-19 patients. At the same time, mandates for masks and social distancing have been relaxed in some places, meaning infectious respiratory diseases can spread more easily than they did last year.
Schaffner cautioned that medical providers now have to remind people of the flu: “We’re going to have to say, ‘There’s another bad respiratory virus, don’t blow it up.'”
This flu season is like no other.
In the United States, influenza activity was significantly Less during the 2020-21 season Compared to any previous influenza season since at least 1997, the first season for which data is publicly available.
Scientists said precautions against the pandemic likely played a role, as many people adopted the habits of masking, social distancing and hand washing.
“The lack of influenza last year was really remarkable,” said Dr. Patrick Jackson, an infectious disease expert at the University of Virginia. People’s willingness to wear masks, wash hands regularly, and be aware of symptoms may help us move forward. And I really hope that’s the story.”
Experts hope these behaviors will continue into the next flu season, especially as more people return to public transportation, restaurants, schools and offices.
This could mean additional burdens on hospitals Already deal with large numbers of covid patients.
“Given our policy, the spread of COVID/influenza will be unevenly distributed across healthcare systems,” said Dr. Jackson.
Who should get the flu shot and when?
He said that the relative decrease in influenza cases over the past 18 months may also mean that the level of immunity to influenza at the population level has decreased this season, Lynette Brammer, Leader of the local influenza surveillance team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She added that while it is still uncertain how the season will unfold, the relaxed epidemiological measures in some places will “likely lead to a resumption of circulation of the seasonal influenza virus.”
“All of this could set us up for a highly likely flu season,” she added.
In the northern hemisphere, the season begins in October and Can last until May. In the Southern Hemisphere, it usually occurs from April through September.
The CDC advises everyone over 6 months old to get the shot, With few exceptions. Ms Brammer said vaccination was especially important for some groups of people, including those with underlying health conditions, the elderly and young children.
It takes about two weeks for protection to develop after vaccination, so experts recommend vaccination from September until the end of October, but even then it is better to get vaccinated than not.
Viruses mutate and require a new vaccine every year, they said, so even people who received a flu shot last year need another this year. NS In any particular seasonVaccines suits For types of influenza viruses – There are many – that is being circulated or is likely to be Generalization.
If I get vaccinated against Covid, do I still need the flu shot?
Yes, it does not protect one from the other. Vaccines are meant to target specific viruses: Just as Covid-19 vaccines for the coronavirus are made, flu vaccines target influenza viruses.
This means that flu vaccines will be distributed this year as some people get initial and booster injections of the coronavirus.
“There’s vaccine stress out there,” Dr. Schaffner said. “But we have to tell people, ‘Oh no, you need a different one,’ while promoting
Can I get the flu shot and the Covid vaccine at the same visit?
Yes really. The CDC says a vaccine may be managed Regardless of the timing of other vaccinations.
Side effects are generally the same when the vaccines are given simultaneously as they are when they are given alone, says the CDC.
“Not only is this possible, but we strongly encourage people to get vaccinated against both influenza and Covid,” said Dr. Kevin Bann, Walgreens’ chief medical officer.
Dr. LJ Tan, chief policy and partnerships officer for the Alliance for Immunological Action, said in an interview that vaccines given at the same time do not cause cumulative reactions. “It’s not like you’re adding it.”
He said common reactions to the flu vaccine can be painful in the arm, and some people may get a little tired.
If you get the flu shot and the Covid-19 vaccine at the same time, experts advise using different arms to avoid pain, or at least the spacing of the injection site for each injection. At least one inch.
Understanding vaccine and mask mandates in the United States
- Vaccine rules. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration Full approval for coronavirus vaccine granted to Pfizer-BioNTech For people aged 16 and over, paving the way for increased mandates in both the public and private sectors. were private companies Increasingly forcing vaccinations for employees. These states are legally allowed It was upheld in judicial appeals.
- mask rules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July Recommended That all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public spaces within areas experiencing outbreaks, a reversal of guidance he gave in May. See where the CDC guidelines will apply, and where Countries have their own mask policies. The fight over masks has become controversial in some states, with some Local leaders defy state ban.
- colleges and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities have required students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- schools. Both California And New York City Vaccine mandates for education staff have been introduced. A survey published in August found that many American parents of school-age children They oppose compulsory vaccinations for students, but they were More supportive of mask states for students, teachers, and staff who don’t have their shots.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many major hospitals and health systems require employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, Noting the increasing number of delta-fueled cases and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their workforce.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required from workers and clients Indoor dining, gyms and shows and other internal positions, although implementation does not begin until September 13. Teachers and other education personnel In the city’s vast school system, he will need at least one dose of the vaccine by September 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital workers You should also get a vaccine or get a weekly test. Similar rules exist for New York State employees.
- at the federal level. The Pentagon has announced that it will seek to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for the country 1.3 million active duty soldiers “Not later than mid-September.” President Biden announced that All civilian federal employees ought to Vaccination against corona virus Or undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements, and restrictions on most flights.
Can I have the flu and covid at the same time?
Yes really. Influenza, Covid-19 and other respiratory diseases are similar symptomsIncluding cough, fever and body aches. The test can only determine which virus a patient has, or whether the patient has both.
Different tests are used for each, and identification of the difference is necessary for treatment. Antiviral treatments exist for influenza, and some Covid-19 patients are receiving treatment with monoclonal antibodies.
“Doctors will have to do a lot more tests this year than they did in the past,” Dr. Schaffner said. “It’s important to know who has what.”
What about children and pregnant women?
About 80 percent of children who have died from the flu in recent years have not been vaccinated, according to Research cited this week From the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Schaffner said influenza has the potential to take in a “perfectly normal child and put them in the emergency room within 48 hours.” He said the children died from the flu when they developed pneumonia or developed pneumonia.
A big factor in the flu numbers dropping last season, he said, was that children were attending remote school and avoiding groups.
“Children are really the biggest spreaders of the influenza virus,” Dr. Schaffner said. They shed more virus than adults, and they release virus for a longer period of time. They spread it among themselves and then bring it home.”
This school year, many children return to personal learning, others return Masks are not required.
If kids who haven’t had the flu shot get the flu, they still should They are vaccinated when they recover. The experts added that children with Covid-19 should not get the flu vaccine until they have recovered.
They also recommend that pregnant women get the flu shot, as its protection passes through the placenta.
How is influenza treated?
Antibiotics are not effective against the flu, but antiviral medications can relieve symptoms. They should ideally be given within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. People with the flu should rest and drink plenty of water, and most will recover within a week.
Where can I get the vaccine?
Public health officials and experts have said that vaccination is very important because it reduces the chances of developing serious and sometimes fatal diseases.
“We can’t turn it off like a light switch,” Dr. Schaffner said. “But we can darken it.”