The summer season of 2021 has finally ended, and people in the U.S and other countries are approaching the flu season. You have seen numerous advertisements instructing you to get a flu shot.
However, you may have questions given the current Covid-19 pandemic climate. Is this winter going to be a bad flu season? How to protect yourself against the flu? In today’s article, we will answer these questions.
You never know how challenging the flu season in 2021 will be because 2020’s flu season was pretty mild than the pre-pandemic era. The primary reason is higher flu vaccine rates, increased social distancing protocols, and handwashing due to the pandemic. However, many people are unsure if they can expect the same in 2021.
Although flu vaccines can’t protect you against all trains, it is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of getting severe sickness with the flu virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone must get vaccinated except for babies under six months. Read on!
What is the Flu? A Recap.
The flu is a respiratory disorder caused by influenza viruses. It can become contagious if not appropriately controlled. Research shows that the flu can infect your respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and lungs.
Not only can a flu virus cause severe illness, but it can also kill people. All flu viruses spread from tiny droplets and lead to infections. The common symptoms of flu infection are coughing, sneezing, headaches, and difficulty breathing. Remember, these drops can land in your nose and mouth and cause severe infections.
Most flu viruses are airborne, while some are surface-borne microbes, meaning you can also increase the risk of infections by touching an object or surface that has the flu virus. That’s why health professionals recommend taking all precautionary measures to increase protection.
So, if you experience cough, sore throat, fever, chills, stuffy nose, runny nose, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and related symptoms, make sure you consult your primary care doctor to seek treatment on time.
The Flu Season in 2021
Before we delve into the flu season in 2021, it is crucial to understand what happened last year. People have been considering Covid-19 as the primary illness for one and a half years, keep in mind that we are now entering the flu season.
The 2020’s flu season was literally non-existent. However, the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities have warned that 2021’s flu season may cause severe problems for the general public and the government.
According to Walgreens Flu Index Data, the flu activity has increased 23% in 2021, affecting different regions in the U.S, including Texas, New Mexico, Las Vegas, and other southern states. However, the CDC says that the overall case numbers are low, with only 42 people diagnosed with flu.
The 2020 flu season had significantly low case numbers. According to JAMA, a reputable healthcare journal, the data shows that the CDC tested over 1.3 million specimens, and only 2,136 tests were positive.
Similarly, CDC data showed 736 deaths from flu in 2020. On the other hand, there were over 35 million flu cases and 20,000 flu-related deaths during the 2019 flu season. Flu case numbers remained low in 2020 due to lockdowns, social distancing protocols, and the general public focusing more on hand hygiene.
It is pretty challenging for health authorities to predict the flu season in 2021. There were fewer flu cases in 2020 due to mask mandates, social distancing, and other prevention methods implemented by the government to reduce the impact of Covid-19.
Because the flu virus activity was low throughout 2020, health professionals say that the reduced immunity in the general public to the seasonal flu can increase the risk of illnesses in 2021. However, it is too early to say anything.
Protecting Yourself against Flu in 2021
The best thing people can do is get flu shots or vaccines and encourage their family members and friends to do the same. However, the government finds it pretty challenging to get people vaccinated because some communities believe vaccines are harmful to their health.
We believe this is a misconception, so we encourage everyone in the U.S to understand that the only way to protect yourself against flu in getting the shot. The FDA has approved nine vaccines for flu in 2021 that can protect people from different types of influenza viruses.
The influenza strains in the flu shot include H1N1 and H3N2 type “A” flu viruses and Yamagata and Victoria lineages of type “B” viruses. So, no matter which vaccine approved by the FDA you receive, you can protect yourself against all influenza strains.
The flu shots are generally 40% to 60% effective each year. However, there are specific considerations for older adults. As you get older, your immune system becomes weak and does not function properly, which does not effectively ward off external pathogens.
For people above 65, the FDA recommends Fluad Quadrivalent, Flublok Quadrivalent, and Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccines. If you can’t find any of these three vaccines, it is crucial to get vaccinated with the vaccine available. FDA recommends getting vaccinated sooner than later to boost your immunity against flu viruses.
Getting Flu Shot and Covid-19 Vaccine at the Same Time
The government focuses more on Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots to mitigate the harmful effects of the novel coronavirus and its variants. Many people wonder if they can get the Covid-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time.
Yes, you can get both at the same time. When the Covid-19 vaccines first came out, the CDC and other health authorities encouraged people to avoid other vaccines, including flu shots. However, data analysis shows that receiving the Covid-19 vaccine with the flu shot does not eliminate its effectiveness or cause adverse reactions.
So, you can get the Covid-19 booster shot and the flu shot. However, they are different shots, meaning you must get them in separate arms. Health authorities recommend separating these two vaccines by recommended 14 days.
All influenza virus strains can take a significant toll on people’s health if they fail to follow CDC and FDA guidelines during the flu season. Although the 2020’s flu season was practically non-existent, this year’s flu season can become dangerous due to people’s weak immunity by not taking flu shots last year.