Best Life: Preventing flu season from being worse than normal this winter

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:49 AM CDT
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PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Health experts are calling it a potential twindemic. First, rising cases of COVID-19 fueled by the Delta variant and now with winter on the horizon, influenza is likely on its way. And experts warn those flu cases may be particularly serious.

Last winter, we battled COVID-19 with masks, social isolation and lots of hand washing. Those measures had an added benefit of preventing many cases of flu last year. But this year...

“Much of our immunity to influenza comes from people who had it last year and a lot of that is gone,” Mark Roberts, MD, MPP, a director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, told Ivanhoe.

Health policy expert Dr. Mark Roberts and his colleagues ran two separate computer analyses. Both models predict a very serious flu season.

“The likelihood is that there could be 20% or 30% more cases. The mathematical model that we use said as many as 400,000 extra hospitalizations,” said Roberts.

Experts are concerned flu could crush healthcare systems that are already straining to keep up with the demands of COVID-19. They say the best way to avoid a worst-case scenario is a flu vaccine.

“Even though the flu vaccine is not as effective as the COVID vaccine is, it is still effective at preventing serious disease, and it’s more effective than not,” Dr. Roberts noted.

According to one model, if 75% of Americans get vaccinated against the flu as compared to 50 percent in a typical year, many of those additional hospitalizations could be avoided

Roberts says for people who have been immunized against COVID, there is no concern that the flu shot would cause an interaction. In fact, experts say you can get both a COVID booster and a flu shot together.

Roberts says the CDC is still working to determine which strain of the flu will be dominant this year, so they can’t yet predict how effective this year’s flu shot will be, still, they say it is better than no flu shot at all.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.

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