Health experts warn of ‘twindemic’ in US
Millions of American children get sick with the flu every year and tens of thousands are hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, Xinhua news agency quoted the CBS News report as saying on Monday.
Research being presented at an American Academy of Pediatrics conference showed that pandemic precautions, like wearing masks and social distancing, helped stop the spread of flu and other common respiratory viruses last season, according to the report.
“Although each of these things is not perfect, taken together, they really are effective in preventing illness,” CBS News quoted William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, as saying.
Last week, The Washington Post had reported that health officials are urging Americans to get their flu shots, warning that the flu season that did not materialize when most of society was shut down last year could come roaring back and strain hospitals in the months ahead. Survey data released last week found that slightly more than half of the American adults plan to be vaccinated against influenza.
That’s not much of a change from pre-pandemic surveys conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
“This low flu activity was likely due to the widespread implementation of Covid-19 preventive measures like masks, physical distancing, and staying home,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing on October 7 announcing flu vaccination efforts.
“I get it: We are all tired of talking about vaccines,” said Dr. Walensky. “But it is doubly important this year” to get your flu shot, added Walensky, who got her own vaccination earlier this week just as she has every year since she was a medical student in 1995. “We are preparing for the return of the flu.”