While the flu (influenza) had appeared to vanish these past two years during the COVID pandemic, its comeback this year looks strong.

While both the flu and COVID are known to be quite erratic, signs point to a swell this winter in COVID cases and a robust comeback of the flu, battling the long-feared “twindemic.”

What transpires in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter often predicts what’s going to happen north of the equator. The strongest warning that the flu could hit the U.S. this winter is what transpired during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter. Flu returned to some countries, such as Australia, where the respiratory infection started raging up months earlier than normal and triggered one of the nastiest flu seasons in recent years. The mixture of the two viruses could seriously burden the health system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that flu causes between 140,00 and 710,000 hospitalizations yearly.

The primary causes of the flu disappearing in the last two years were because of the actions people had made to avoid COVID, such as staying home, avoiding public gatherings, wearing masks, and not traveling. That prevented flu viruses from spreading, but those measures have mostly been discarded.

Though COVID-19 usually has been mild for young people, the flu typically presents the biggest threat to both the elderly and children. The primary strain of flu that’s currently spreading, H3N2, tends to hit the elderly hard. Health experts also worry about young children who have not been subjected to flu for two years and have no immunities.

This year’s flu vaccines are a great match with the spreading strains and so should provide efficient protection. Health officials worry fewer people will get flu shots this year than traditionally because of the anti-vaccine response that increased in reaction to COVID vaccinations. Flu vaccine levels are already lagging this year as opposed to past years. Health officials also hope that many of the habits people established to fight COVID will continue and help lessen the impact of the flu this year.

In an average year, thousands of individuals in the United States perish from flu, and many more are hospitalized. The flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related trips to the doctor each year. The CDC advises everybody 6 months and older to get vaccinated each flu season. Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses for the duration of a single flu season. Everyone else needs only one dose each flu season. It takes about two weeks for protection to develop following vaccination.

All Nevadans are strongly encouraged to get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Please visit https://www.immunizenevada.org/flu for more information regarding the flu, flu vaccination, and where to get the vaccine in Nevada.

Retrieved September 27, 2022, from: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.html  https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/09/23/1124311571/flu-season-2022-covid-twindemic,https://www.immunizenevada.org/flu

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