It's Time to Get a Flu Shot

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Public wellness experts urge an yearly flu shot, and are disquieted a “twindemic” with Covid-19 could further load wellness attraction facilities this year.

Hailey Nelson, a University of Tulsa nursing student, right, prepared to springiness  a flu vaccine past  twelvemonth  to a diligent  connected  the field  of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.
Credit...Mike Simons/Tulsa World, via Associated Press

Christine Hauser

Sept. 17, 2021, 7:00 a.m. ET

Last fall, arsenic coronavirus cases climbed and the satellite hoped for vaccines, wellness experts feared influenza and Covid-19 would harvester for a devastating “twindemic.”

While pandemic measures appeared to support the flu astatine bay, this twelvemonth experts are again concerned, particularly arsenic immoderate countries and authorities authorities roll back lockdown rules. Many officials and experts are urging the public: Do not disregard the information of the flu, and question a flu vaccine.

“This twelvemonth we are guaranteed to person the flu, and we are going to person immoderate mentation of a twindemic,” said Dr. William Schaffner, the aesculapian manager for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “It could truly further strain an already extraordinarily stretched, strained, tired-to-the-bone wellness attraction system.”

The United States is grappling with an mean of more than 160,000 new coronavirus cases a day. Hospitals and intensive attraction units are filling up with Covid-19 patients. At the aforesaid time, disguise mandates and societal distancing person been relaxed successful immoderate places, meaning contagious respiratory illnesses tin dispersed much easy than they did past year.

Dr. Schaffner warned that aesculapian providers present had to punctual radical astir influenza: “We are going to person to say, ‘There is different nasty respiratory virus, and don’t stroke it off.’”

In the United States, flu enactment was importantly lower during the 2020-21 season than during immoderate erstwhile flu play since astatine slightest 1997, the archetypal for which information is publically available.

Scientists said pandemic precautions astir apt played a role, arsenic galore radical adopted masking, social-distancing and hand-washing habits.

“The deficiency of influenza past twelvemonth was genuinely remarkable,” said Dr. Patrick Jackson, an infectious illness adept astatine the University of Virginia. “It whitethorn beryllium that peoples’ willingness to deterioration masks and lavation hands regularly and beryllium alert of symptoms whitethorn assistance america moving forward. And I truly anticipation that turns retired to beryllium the story.”

Experts anticipation those behaviors volition transportation implicit into the coming flu season, particularly arsenic much radical instrumentality to nationalist transit, restaurants, schools and offices.

But the United States and a number of other countries are not unified successful however to face the pandemic, and immoderate radical person stopped taking those precautions.

That could mean further burdens for hospitals already treating ample numbers of Covid patients.

“Given our politics, a Covid/flu surge volition beryllium unevenly distributed to wellness attraction systems,” Dr. Jackson said.

The comparative deficiency of flu cases implicit the past 18 months could besides mean that population-level immunity to the flu is little this season, said Lynnette Brammer, the person of the C.D.C.’s home influenza surveillance team.

And portion it is inactive uncertain however the play volition play out, she added, relaxed pandemic measures successful immoderate places volition “likely effect successful the resumption of seasonal flu microorganism circulation.”

“This each could acceptable america up for a perchance terrible flu season,” she added.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the play starts successful October and can past done May. In the Southern Hemisphere, it typically occurs from April done September.

The C.D.C. advises everyone implicit the property of 6 months aged to get the shot, with a fewer exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for immoderate groups of people, including those with underlying wellness conditions, older adults and young children, Ms. Brammer said.

It takes astir 2 weeks for extortion to make aft vaccination, truthful experts urge getting vaccinated from September done the extremity of October, but adjacent aft that it is amended to get the vaccine than not.

Because viruses mutate, requiring a caller vaccine each year, adjacent radical who received a flu changeable past twelvemonth request different this year, they said. For any fixed season, vaccines are tailored to the types of influenza viruses — there are many — that are circulating oregon astir apt to be circulating.

Yes, 1 does not support against the other. Vaccines are intended to people circumstantial viruses: Just arsenic the Covid-19 vaccines are manufactured for the coronavirus, flu vaccines people influenza viruses.

That means flu shots this twelvemonth volition beryllium doled retired arsenic immoderate radical are getting archetypal and booster shots for the coronavirus.

“There is vaccine fatigue retired there,” Dr. Schaffner said. “But we are going to person to archer people, ‘Oh no, you request a antithetic one’, close astatine the clip we are boosting

Yes. The C.D.C. says the vaccine may be administered without respect to the timing of different vaccines.

Side effects are mostly akin erstwhile the vaccines are fixed simultaneously arsenic erstwhile they are administered alone, the C.D.C. says.

Dr. Kevin Ban, the main aesculapian serviceman astatine Walgreens, said, “Not lone is it possible, but we highly promote radical to beryllium vaccinated for some flu and Covid.”

Vaccines received astatine the aforesaid clip bash not origin cumulative reactions, Dr. L.J. Tan, Immunization Action Coalition’s Chief Policy and Partnerships Officer, said successful an interview. “It is not similar you are adding it on.”

Common reactions to the flu vaccine tin beryllium a sore arm, and immoderate radical mightiness get a small tired, helium said.

If you bash get the flu changeable and the Covid-19 vaccine astatine the aforesaid time, experts counsel utilizing antithetic arms to debar soreness, oregon astatine slightest spacing the injection tract for each changeable by at slightest 1 inch.

Yes. The flu, Covid-19 and different respiratory illnesses person akin symptoms, including cough, fever and assemblage aches. Only investigating tin place which microorganism a diligent has, oregon if a diligent has both.

Different tests are utilized for each, and identifying the quality is indispensable to treatment. Antiviral treatments beryllium for influenza, and immoderate patients with Covid-19 person monoclonal antibody treatment.

“Doctors are going to person to bash a full batch much investigating this twelvemonth than successful the past,” Dr. Schaffner said. “It is important to cognize who has got what.”

The C.D.C. estimates that the flu has killed 12,000 to 61,000 radical a twelvemonth since 2010. (More than 650,000 deaths person been linked to the coronavirus pandemic successful the United States.)

About 80 percent of children who person died of influenza successful past years had not been vaccinated, according to research cited this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The flu has the capableness to instrumentality a “perfectly mean kid and enactment them successful the exigency country successful 48 hours,” Dr. Schaffner said. Children person died from the flu erstwhile they became septic oregon got pneumonia, helium said.

A large origin for the debased flu numbers past play was that children were attending schoolhouse remotely and avoiding groups, helium said.

“Children are truly the large disseminators of the influenza virus,” Dr. Schaffner said. “They shed much microorganism than bash adults, and they shed the microorganism for a longer play of time. They dispersed it among themselves and past bring it home.”

This world year, galore children are going backmost to in-person learning, and immoderate are not required to deterioration masks.

If children who haven’t gotten a flu changeable get the flu, they should inactive be vaccinated erstwhile they recover. Experts added that children sick with Covid-19 should not get the flu vaccine until they person recovered.

They besides urge large women get the flu vaccine, arsenic its extortion passes done the placenta.

Antibiotics are not effectual against the flu, but antiviral drugs tin easiness symptoms. They should ideally beryllium fixed wrong 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. People with the flu should remainder and portion plentifulness of water, and astir volition retrieve wrong a week.

Pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS, and astatine Walmart connection escaped flu shots. There are mobile apps to marque appointments and online vaccination finders.

Public wellness officials and experts said that vaccination was truthful important due to the fact that it reduces the chances of severe, sometimes fatal illness.

“We can’t unopen it disconnected similar a airy switch,” Dr. Schaffner said. “But we tin dim it.”

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