Since the pandemic hit the United States last winter, the flu has basically been nowhere except in a few places like western Africa. During the flu season of 2019-2020, more than 38 million people in the United States became sick with influenza and nearly 22,000 of them died. Compare that to October 3, 2020 to July 24, 2021, only 2,136 laboratory specimens were positive for influenza virus and 748 deaths were coded as influenza.
Wow, that’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Where did the influenza virus go? Maybe it went into hiding with a mask on to keep from getting COVID-19! Or maybe it just laid back, waiting for a more opportune time to come out of hiding and infect people! Thank goodness the two viruses did not compete with each other, which would have caused what some referred to as a “twindemic”. That said, the predictions for this coming flu season are not as positive. Why? Well, typically in a flu season, 10-30% of the population is exposed, thus building immunity. Take away 2 full flu seasons and that leaves a lot of people with lower immunity levels. Remember, influenza viruses mutate regularly which is why we have a new vaccine every year. Without this information, scientists are really in a tough spot predicting which variant will rear its head this winter.
Bottom line, we are back to the drawing board and I can personally say that when the flu vaccine is available, I will be first in line to get it! Even if it isn’t highly effective, with the Delta variant floating around we can’t afford to risk a “twindemic” for 2021-2022, we have had enough! And, like it or not, data shows that it is always wise to mask up indoors especially if you are around people you don’t usually hang out with! Stay well, stay informed, and stay tuned!