Last year’s flu season was historically mild, with most people wearing masks, staying home and avoiding crowds, but some experts warn the flu could make a comeback just like other respiratory viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), have this year.
So far, flu activity remains low across the country. But that’s on par with how flu season would behave at this point in the year before the pandemic hit.
Flu activity doesn’t typically pick up until late November.
“It’s still early days. What you’ve seen out there is what we usually see – just a little bit of scattered influenza activity,” Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert and professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Healthline.
Flu activity is currently low, but that’s what health experts usually expect to see this time of year, he said.
“By and large, October and early November are still pretty quiet with flu. But as every day in November goes on, we get a little bit more flu activity,” he said.
It’s impossible to predict exactly how this year’s flu season will go.
“Now that behavior is changing across the world and more things are reopening, there is a chance that the flu will return, although it is hard to predict exactly what will happen and when,” said Dr. Ellen Foxman, a Yale Medicine laboratory medicine physician, assistant professor, and immunobiologist at Yale School of Medicine. “As we loosen those restrictions, we will likely see more flu.”
WHAT STRAINS ARE GOING AROUND
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both influenza A and influenza B strains have been circulating, though at low levels.
Currently, New Mexico and the District of Columbia have reported moderate flu activity, and all other states are reporting low or minimal flu activity.
Dr. Marie-Louise Landry, the director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory and professor at Yale School of Medicine, says her lab in Connecticut has already seen several positive tests for flu – mostly in pediatric patients.
GET YOUR FLU SHOT
Schaffner says healthcare providers have had to put more effort into promoting the flu shot this year.
People have vaccine fatigue, and many are tired of hearing about respiratory viruses.
“It’s almost as if we had to reintroduce everyone to influenza this year and remind them there is a flu vaccine distinct from COVID [vaccination],” Schaffner said.
If flu does come back, which many health experts expect to happen to a degree, the flu shot is a safe, effective way to protect yourself from the flu and reduce the duration and severity of illness if you do get sick.
“Right now is the time when everyone should get their flu shot, so that they will be protected against the flu for the upcoming winter season,” Foxman said.
(Information from Healthline at healthline.com)