COVID-19 shutdowns in 2019-2020 stifled the spread of the flu last year. There are several factors that suggest this winter will be more severe.
The COVID shutdowns led to less travel, working from home, remote schooling, masking and social distancing, these reduced the possibility of the flu.
This is hard on hospitals
Many hospitals are still overwhelmed with an excess of COVID patients. Hospitals could now face numerous patients sick from the flu as well. While this treatment is going on, there are other people who just need regular care too. Find more information here.
Even if this flu season turns out to be mild, many health care facilities are already at their tipping point.
Why might this season be so bad?
Experts report that we may be on trend for a severe flu season. During a typical season, influenza A subtypes dominate at the beginning. That is usually followed by influenza B subtypes dominating the end of the season.
Right now we are seeing H3N2, which is an influenza A subtype. This subtype causes almost all influenza infections. It also tends to dominate during the most severe flu seasons, historically.
On a positive note, scientists think that the Yamagata lineage of influenza may have gone extinct.
The flu season gap last year left our immune systems less prepared than usual. This may be a factor in this years severity.
What about the flu shot?
As campaigns for COVID-19 vaccinations flooded the media, ads about the flu shot took a backseat.
Influenza vaccine uptake is currently similar to what we were looking at around this time last year.
Vaccination rates are currently lower among the most vulnerable groups, which is concerning to doctors. The main concern being children and pregnant people.
The flu vaccine is reformulated each year to include the top four strains that are anticipated to dominate the season.
Getting the flu shot is highly encouraged.
How does this relate to COVID-19?
The flu is less contagious than COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch both. If you are experiencing symptoms, many clinics can run a test for COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
Similarly to COVID, experts are not certain how this will pan out.
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