After a fairly nonexistent flu season due to masks, social distancing, reduced travel and other various factors, the flu could make a return in 2021. As people wear masks less, in-person school learning reopens and people begin to travel more often, the ability for the flu to spread could increase as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. While the Pandemic presented us with a variety of different challenges, the flu being weakened allowed people to focus on fighting COVID-19.
“When they come back there’s going to be vulnerability and probably greater levels of infections. Everyone’s going to be complaining about colds probably next winter,” Ben Cowling, an infectious diseases researcher at Hong Kong University told STAT News. After over a year of preventative measures that have kept the flu and other viruses at bay, easing back into a world without those measures in place could make the flu more dangerous, due to our immune systems not being used to fighting against those viruses. This could mean that we could be more susceptible to the flu and other seasonal viruses that appear, making it even more important to get the flu vaccine when it comes available.
“I can imagine that when things first start up again in the fall and all the kids go back to college and other kids go back to elementary school and preschool and daycare that you will have a lot of respiratory virus transmission,” Yale University researcher Ellen Foxman said.
The CDC reported earlier this month that fewer than one in 1,000 people were hospitalized with the flu, which is a historically low rate. So how will people combat the flu season which could be worse than normal in 2021? Some might choose to wear masks during flu season to protect themselves from getting the virus, or whenever they feel ill. In addition to getting the influenza vaccine, there are still ways to protect yourself against the flu. With COVID-19 cases slowing down and restrictions being loosened, letting your guard down would be a natural reaction to over a year of being cooped up with tight restrictions. Things such as not going to work sick and being aware of the people around you can go a long way in avoiding the influenza virus.
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