Health officials are warning the upcoming flu season could be a dangerous one after COVID-19 restrictions resulted in a mild season last year.
That’s one reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting all vaccines this year will be “quadrivalent” – designed to protect against four different flu viruses.
The CDC fears reduced population immunity could lead to an early and severe flu season which stems from lessened flu virus activity since March 2020.
“We have not seen very many patients with COVID the last few weeks and we have only seen a handful of flu patients,” said Vanessa White, Administrator for Parekh Medical Clinic in Senatobia. “I think things are tapering down but we are anxious about the holidays as people travel and visit with family.”
Tate County reported 36 additional cases of COVID-19 and one virus-related death from Monday, Nov. 1 through Friday, Nov. 5. More people across the state and locally are receiving vaccinations against coronavirus. About 11,374 of approximately 28,000 people in Tate County, or 42%, have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Roughly, 10,791 people, or 38%, are fully vaccinated.
Recently, daily coronavirus case counts have fallen significantly. There were nearly 70% fewer cases in October than in September and COVID-19-related hospitalizations have also dwindled, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
While COVID-19 case counts have receded significantly in the past month, state health officials urge continued vaccination efforts, especially as vaccines soon will be readily available for children from 5 to 11-years-old. Over 50,000 pediatric doses pre-ordered by the state health department are expected to arrive soon and will be delivered to county health departments and other providers.
Flu vaccinations are deemed even more important this season because studies suggest increased flu-related hospitalizations and deaths can be mitigated if vaccination rates are between 20-50 percent higher than those in recent flu seasons, according to a recent health study.
“As COVID-19 containment measures – such as masking, distancing and school closures – are relaxed around the world, we’re seeing a fierce resurgence of other respiratory viruses, which does not bode well for the coming flu season,” said Dr. Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory.
One medical expert said it’s hard to predict the severity of any flu season but since there were very few flu cases reported last year, we should be prepared to see more this year.
Hand washing, social distancing, masks and isolating yourself when you think you are sick are things that will help stop the spread of most any respiratory virus. While people were doing those things to stop the spread of COVID-19, it really shut down the spread of the flu.
The CDC recommends anyone 65 and older should get flu vaccinations as soon as possible. Children under five are also at higher risk for complications of the flu and should also be vaccinated.
And if you’ve been meaning to get a COVID-19 shot, you can get a flu vaccination at the same time, according to health experts. The CDC previously issued a statement saying it’s okay to get both at the same time, including COVID booster shots.