Lockdowns helped preserve final 12 months’s flu season traditionally gentle in each the USA and all over the world, however U.S. officers worry a extra severe season this fall and winter, with unmasked individuals out and about way more, and practically half of adults in a brand new survey saying they’re unlikely to get a flu shot.
At a information briefing to launch the survey knowledge on Thursday morning, high well being consultants mentioned they had been notably involved that, with the coronavirus nonetheless coursing across the nation, practically one in 4 individuals at larger threat for flu-related issues indicated they didn’t intend to get the flu vaccine.
Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, head of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, famous that whereas consultants didn’t but understand how severely the flu would hit the USA this fall, different respiratory infections had already returned, together with RSV, a typical explanation for pneumonia and bronchitis in infants and a severe menace to older adults. The C.D.C.’s newest weekly flu report reveals that just one state, Wyoming, had reached a “reasonable” stage of flu instances.
As a result of the flu was nearly nonexistent final 12 months, Dr. Walensky famous, individuals don’t have the protecting immunity they may have acquired if that they had gotten sick, and he or she urged that everybody age 6 months and older be vaccinated. “The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over, and the danger of each flu and Covid-19 circulating may put extra pressure on hospitals and frontline well being care professionals,” she mentioned.
The survey was commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, a nonprofit organization. Its medical director, Dr. William Schaffner, said that overall vulnerability to flu could be higher this year, “with relaxed Covid-19 mitigation strategies, increased travel and the reopening of schools.”
For the survey, more than 1,110 respondents 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia answered questions in mid-August that explored attitudes about the flu; Covid-19; pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis; and vaccination intentions.
The answers revealed a tension between beliefs about the value of the flu vaccination and the intention to get one: 61 percent of respondents agreed that a shot was the best protection against the flu, but 44 percent said they were either unsure whether they would get one or did not intend to do so.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, has had a positive effect on behaviors that could help lessen the impact of the flu. Nearly half of those surveyed said that because of the pandemic, they were more likely to stay home from work or school if they were sick, and 54 percent said they would wear a mask at least sometimes during the flu season.
But there were racial disparities: 73 percent of Black respondents and 62 percent of Latinos said they would wear a mask during flu season, compared with only 46 percent of white respondents. Black and Latino respondents were also more likely to be worried about being infected with Covid and the flu simultaneously than white respondents.
Dr. Walensky said that the flu vaccination rate nationally had held steady over the year before, at about 52 percent, but criticized what she called a “disparity gap” in flu vaccination: 56 percent for white people versus 43 percent among Black people.
Patsy Stinchfield, a nurse practitioner at Children’s Minnesota, a pediatric health care system, and the president-elect of the infectious disease foundation, said that it was safe for people to get flu and Covid shots — including boosters — at the same time.
Dr. Walensky also raised alarms about a decline in the flu vaccination rates among young children, to 59 percent from 64 percent the year before. In the 2019-2020 season, she said, 199 children died from the flu, about 80 percent of whom were not vaccinated.