The Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, recently predicted that the fall and winter seasons would be “probably one of the most difficult times we have experienced in the American public health. ”
With the intersection of flu season, the spread of Covid-19 and the discussion of children returning to school, it is more imperative than at any time in our lives for every American over the age of 6 months. (with rare exceptions) to deliver the flu vaccine as recommended by the CDC starting in September.
The flu is a valuable public health and life-saving tool that remains the best defense against the flu virus that kills and kills many of our friends, neighbors and family members every day. year.
Influenza remains one of the top ten leading causes of death each year in the United States. From October 201
9 to April 4, 2020, the CDC estimated that there were as many as 56 million flu diseases, 740,000 hospitalizations at its peak and tragically between 24,000 to 62,000 deaths from the virus.
Add to this the impact of Covid-19: the United States is peeling ever closer to 4.5 million Americans infected with the virus and over 150,000 lives lost.
Experts, including myself, believe that the combination of both coronavirus and influenza virus circulating across the United States this fall and winter has the potential to exacerbate stress on a system. already struggling public health.
Both viruses cause initial symptoms that are difficult to distinguish, have their greatest effect on the elderly and those with similar underlying conditions, and, in the severe end of the disease spectrum, cause competition for equipment. a similar life-saving hospital.
While there is currently a decline in influenza surveillance in some regions of the world as many of the public health resources are being devoted to fighting the pandemic, we cannot afford to be lax about the pandemic season. the next influence.
This makes the life-saving flu vaccine more critical than ever. Let me state this clearly and without possible ambiguity: start the flu starting in September. Do not expect reports of a spike in the flu virus before taking advantage of the vaccine.
That flu shot at the start of the season allows for the time needed to build immunity and protection from this year’s flu virus.
And if that’s not reason enough to get the vaccine, researchers reported this week at a meeting of the American Heart Association that receiving the flu could reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, heart attack and stroke, for high-risk individuals.
As part of the select group of scientists who make recommendations on the annual influenza vaccine at the World Health Organization, my colleagues and I look at the flu season in the Hemisphere. Noon for a hint of what will come in the North.
Just as we are seeing the current flu season down in the South, this year we are also seeing the coronavirus spread throughout their winter months.
So far, Australia and New Zealand are seeing very low flu rates, presumably due to public health measures instituted to combat Covid-19, including social breakdowns, wearing masks and disinfecting crops.
These measures work in the same way, if not better, to prevent the flu as well. However, as we prepare for both viruses in the fall, it will be critical to develop methods for the simultaneous detection of influenza and Covid-19 infections.
Researchers are currently in the process of developing new, dual tests that allow us to test for the flu and at the same time, verify the new coronavirus. This unique text saves time, resources and lives.
Due to the strain on public health resources in Covid’s age, a multi-purpose test would be of major benefit to public health.
Because the symptoms of Covid-19 and the flu are very similar, deciphering between the two viruses can be a problem when patients are infected with both. It may also be critical to provide healthcare workers with sufficient information to care for patients.
The warning signs are there for a difficult path forward, but we still have the ability to change the trajectory of this forecast. One of the key steps in our control is to take advantage of the newly developed flu vaccine, better suited for added protection from this year’s flu virus.
In addition, simple and effective prevention tips such as hand washing and staying home when you feel symptoms of Covid or flu, protect us and our families. It’s more important now than ever.