The flu season last year was the most severe ever recorded. This is likely due to COVID-19 measures (school closures, distancing masks and cancelled travel) that prevented the spread of influenza or because the coronavirus managed to push aside other viruses.
Lynnette Brammer is a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specialist who tracks flu-like illness for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brammer stated that the number of children who die from flu-related complications is "unfortunately higher than we would have expected." It is a stark reminder of the severity of flu.
One child died last year during an unusually mild flu season. One child died of flu in comparison to 199 who died two years ago and 144 last year.
Brammer stated that the virus most likely to cause severe disease this year is the type of virus currently in circulation. This is especially true for the elderly and very young.
It was more difficult to plan for the flu vaccine this year because of last year's flu break. Brammer stated that although it appears that the flu virus is spreading in a different subgroup than the vaccine targets, it's still too early to determine if this will affect the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Brammer stated that "we'll have to wait and see what the effect of these small changes" will be. Flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from flu.
Early signs indicate that flu shots are being given to fewer people than last year. Brammer stated that hospitals are already stretched due to COVID-19 and it is more important than ever for people to get flu shots and take other precautions.
Cover your cough. Wash your hands. Stay home if you're sick," Brammer said. Talk to your doctor if you have the flu. These antivirals can help prevent serious illness and keep you out of the hospital.