02 Nov Will Covid-19 Reduce the Severity of Flu Season?
Eight months and counting. We can’t get a safe, effective COVID vaccine soon enough. We long to strip off our masks and hug our friends and families again. To throw open the doors of restaurants, bars, theaters, concert halls, movie theaters and sports venues and embrace life once more. But experts caution us that a vaccine may not be the panacea we seek.
What we can learn from the flu vaccine
Let’s take a look at our annual flu shots. Flu vaccines are approximate 50% effective in preventing infection from each season’s flu bug. Flu vaccines are administered annually because the mix of viral strains varies from year to year. Even if the viruses don’t change significantly, our immunity wanes.
Scientists continue to learn about the coronavirus, and they know that it mutates. “If a vaccine was developed that is 50% effective in preventing COVID, it would still be licensed,” said Michael T. Osterholm, infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota. “We’d like a higher degree of effectiveness, but as with the flu vaccine, 50% protection is better than zero.
“It will disappear, like magic”, is so not going to happen
Even after being immunized against COVID, we may still have to wear our masks, practice social distancing and frequently wash our hands. It’s not “just disappearing, like magic”, as President Trump predicted.
The good news: We may see a less severe flu season this year
The protective COVID measures that we’ve been practicing well may affect our winter flu season. Experts look to the Southern Hemisphere as a predictor. Australia had a quester flu season this year. “We think that’s because people have been using measures to prevent COVID-19”, said Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious diseases expert at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Christopher Ohl, a professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, agreed that “there is a little bit of hope that the flu season will be a little less severe this year.”
- Our manic use of hand sanitizers and handwashing will help keep the flu bug at bay.
- Masks will reduce the airborne transmission of COVID and the common flu.
- For those who get the flu after being immunized, the illness is likely to be significantly less severe.
- Health care professionals are optimistic that this also may be the case with a coronavirus vaccine.
Experts are concerned about winter and the convergence of flu and COVID
Health care workers are now focusing on the rate of infections this winter. COVID cases are on the rise here at home and in other countries.
- In Europe, where COVID is on the rise again, there are new restrictions. Paris has imposed a curfew. London has banned people from different households from meeting indoors.
- In Iowa and North Dakota, where there are no mask mandates, the virus is surging, with more than 20% positivity rates.
- Hospitals in some parts of the country have reached capacity, yet the White House’s Office of Science and Technology is celebrating the end of the pandemic. It is no longer controlling the virus.
- Incredibly, Florida has completely opened up its economy—bars and restaurants, gyms and theaters–no masks or social distancing.
Experts worry that the confluence of COVID and our normal flu season could overwhelm the health care system. Pneumonia can be a complication of the flu, which would further burden hospitals—many with a limited number of ventilators.
Those most vulnerable are seniors, children under five and pregnant women. And as we’ve learned from COVID, those with preexisting conditions are especially at risk.
For those over 65, a high-dose flu vaccine is now available
For people 65 and older, an inactivated vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose is now available and covered by Medicare. It is especially recommended for people living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the high-dose vaccine was 24% more effective in preventing flu in older adults than the standard-dose vaccine.
When to get your flu shot? Right now.
October is the ideal time to get a flu shot to ensure that it lasts through the flu season.
COVID has created an urgency on many levels, including creating a Living Trust
As the COVID crisis drags on, more clients are scheduling appointments to create or update their Living Trusts. Our Trust package includes a Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive. It also includes a Pour Over Will, and for those families with children under 18, this means that they can name a Guardian rather than having the court appoint one for them.
Creating a Trust helps provide peace of mind during these uncertain times. Best of all, we guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents. At California Document Preparers, for most of our services, we charge one flat fee. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable.
We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas
Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.