Until 2020, many Americans (except health reporters) tended to consider influenza as just a nuisance winter illness that might keep one in bed for a few days. However, this year, with COVID-19 still roiling the country, the flu needs to be considered more seriously.
Adding to concerns are polls showing that people may be reluctant to get a flu shot, which may influence others to hold off. CNN reports that one in three parents said they had no plan to go to their doctor’s office and vaccinate their kids, even though more than 100 children die of the flu each year. Most of the children that die from the flu didn’t get a flu shot. Continue reading
Get your flu shot. Never, perhaps, has that advice been as important for older adults to act on as this year. As winter approaches, geriatricians and infectious disease experts are increasingly concerned about the effects of even a mild flu season on an already-vulnerable older adult population, especially those in long-term care facilities.
It’s been likened to “a perfect storm,” and sailing in “uncharted waters,” according to a recent editorial in Science magazine by Edward Bologna, director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Marshfield, Wisc., and Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Cliches aside, the reality is we have no idea what to expect when the pandemic and flu season converge, especially without a proven COVID-19 vaccine that is safe and effective in the older population. Continue reading
Infectious disease physicians warned Americans to prepare for the worst case scenario this winter –people will be exposed to a surge of multiple dangerous viruses at the same time – SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) and strains of the influenza virus.
“We have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Dr. Leonard Mermel, medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island hospital, told reporters at a Sept. 10 briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “If there was ever a year to get the flu vaccine … and … you could reduce the risk of having these two viruses infect you at the same time or your loved one … this is the year.” Continue reading
As we start moving into fall and winter, Americans are certain to be facing a continuation of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 and the possibility of a widespread outbreak of the flu – a potential crisis that has a new name: “twindemic,” according to the Poynter Institute.
Even a mild flu season could overwhelm already-stressed hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. On average, 39 million to 56 million Americans are infected by the flu annually, and about half a million of them become so sick they require hospitalization, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading
While there is rightfully much concern about the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) becoming a pandemic (see Bara Vaida’s excellent tip sheet on covering the virus), let’s not forget we’re in the middle of flu season, another disease that is potentially fatal for older adults. While COVID-19 is deadlier, flu is much more prevalent.
Flu activity is high in the U.S. and expected to continue for weeks, according to CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending Feb. 15, 2020. You can see a breakout by age groups for Influenza A and B strains here. CDC estimates at least 29 million flu illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from flu so far this season. Continue reading
Do you wrestle with ways to illustrate numbers when writing about vaccines?
Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, a family physician in Spokane, Wash., recently offered some ways to do this effectively in a blog post called Vaccine Data: Do the Math.
LaSalle skillfully highlights two examples of how numbers can be used. In one example, related to flu figures, she suggests how real-life context can make the risks of the flu more obvious. In another example, related to measles data, she underscores how numbers can be used to mislead. Continue reading