Flu season is now — but it’s different this year. What to know about getting your shot


It is flu season. That it is means flu shot season.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For probably the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

An indication exterior our neighborhood pharmacy mentioned vaccine walk-ins have been welcome. Inside, the road to get the shot stretched down an aisle. We weren’t queued up for a COVID-19 vaccine jab, nonetheless: We have been ready for our 2021 flu shot.

As soon as once more, the specter of flu infections overlaps with the continued COVID-19 pandemic, creating the potential for a “twindemic” of two distinct, harmful diseases that trigger (amongst different issues) respiratory misery, hospitalizations and dying for hundreds of thousands of individuals. Nationwide lockdowns that stored folks distanced, combined with the annual flu shot, largely helped dodge the double blast of infections final yr. Whereas the US noticed a steep rise in coronavirus infections within the winter, the spread of influenza was uncommonly light.

Nevertheless, this yr might return to the standard sample, by which hundreds of thousands of individuals within the US catch the influenza virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and tens of 1000’s die from flu-related causes. With COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots now licensed — even mix-and-match shots — intermingling is predicted. And with that, a attainable improve within the flu, alongside new waves of delta variant COVID infections at a time when peoples’ stance on masking and social distancing have develop into political points, not simply public well being considerations.

We talked with three flu-vaccine specialists about what to anticipate this yr — learn on for his or her sensible recommendation. For extra on the flu, this is where you can get your shot in 2021, which flu-shot side effects you could expertise and why epidemiologists counsel taking each a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot.

Get your flu shot. Now

Within the US — and the remainder of the northern hemisphere — flu season normally runs October to Might, in line with the specialists we spoke to. However the flu virus is much less involved with the seasons and extra concerned with spreading. So the timing this yr may very well be much less predictable, specialists warn, with final yr’s mild flu season and our personal altering behaviors across the pandemic. 

However you do not wish to attempt to time your flu shot for when the flu will hit. To be prepared, specialists suggest you get your flu vaccine now.


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“Now we have a traditional time after we anticipate the flu,” Peter Chin-Hong, a medical physician and professor within the Well being Division of Infectious Ailments on the University of California, San Francisco, instructed CNET. “However this yr, it may very well be atypical or drag on longer, so that is what folks must be ready for.”

An analogous shift within the timing of a seasonal virus an infection occurred this summer time when the US and Japan noticed a spike in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infections at school kids, Chin-Hong mentioned. That is as a result of college students weren’t uncovered to the virus the winter earlier than — when RSV infections usually happen — and so did not have immunity constructed up, which allowed the virus to unfold in the summertime as a substitute.

Anticipate to e-book an appointment to get your flu shot

Should you’re used to strolling as much as your native pharmacy, hospital or clinic to get a flu shot at any time when it is most handy to you, you could discover this yr that it’s a must to schedule an appointment as a substitute. 

Indicators in an area pharmacy instruct clients to make an appointment for each flu and COVID pictures, and Walgreens’ chief medical officer, Kevin Ban, recommends scheduling COVID-19 and flu vaccinations on-line. 

“We’re doing as a lot as attainable to make it straightforward for folks to schedule their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated,” Ban mentioned, including that you would be able to additionally name Walgreens’ toll-free number to make an appointment.

It is secure to get your COVID and flu pictures concurrently

The COVID pandemic continues to trigger infection, hospitalization and death, with hospitals within the hardest-hit areas as soon as once more on the limit of their ability to treat patients. However the flu shot needs to be as straightforward to get because the COVID-19 vaccination.

In reality, the CDC has mentioned it’s safe to get a flu shot and COVID vaccination in the same sitting. (Vaccine-maker Moderna mentioned it is engaged on a combination COVID-19/flu vaccine, however that combo will not be obtainable this yr.)


Now’s the time to prepare for the flu season.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What to know concerning the flu vaccine’s effectiveness this yr

Vaccine-makers monitor which flu strains are presently circulating and forecast that are principally more likely to develop into the dominant strains throughout the upcoming flu season. These drug producers then produce a flu vaccine — your flu shot — utilizing three and typically 4 of the almost definitely flu strains. 

The effectiveness of the vaccine at stopping an infection varies yr to yr, starting from 19% efficacy within the 2014-2015 season to 60% in 2010-2011. Final yr, the flu shot was 39% efficient in stopping an infection. 

And final flu season, about half of US adults and children acquired a flu shot, in line with the CDC. Mix that with the steps the US took to examine the unfold of COVID-19, and also you get a lot of reported flu cases within the US that looks like a typo, it’s so unbelievably low: 2,038 flu circumstances reported throughout the 2020-2021 flu season vs. 38 million circumstances reported within the 2019-2020 season.

This yr, due to final yr’s mild flu season, the vaccine-makers had much less to go on to make their predictions and created a vaccine containing 4 seemingly flu strains — referred to as a quadrivalent flu vaccine — to extend the possibilities of protecting the dominant pressure this yr. 

“There was sufficient information to make a very good educated guess,” mentioned L.J. Tan, chief technique officer for the Immunization Action Coalition, a nonprofit group that works to extend vaccination charges. “Proper now we’re assured we acquired it proper.”

As with the COVID-19 vaccines, the flu shot isn’t 100% efficient in guarding towards an infection. However just like the coronavirus pictures, the flu vaccine can blunt the severity of the virus in the event you do catch it. The CDC said getting vaccinated for flu can cut back the chance of getting to go to the physician 40 to 60%

And don’t fret about extra severe unwanted effects with a four-part flu vaccine: Whether or not the vaccine is made utilizing three elements or 4, the side effects needs to be the identical, Chin-Hong, the UCSF physician, mentioned.

For extra on vaccines this fall, this is what we all know concerning the Pfizer COVID-19 booster and the Moderna vaccine booster. And this is the newest on the Johnson & Johnson booster.

The knowledge contained on this article is for academic and informational functions solely and isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. All the time seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you’ll have a few medical situation or well being aims.

https://www.cnet.com/well being/flu-season-is-now-but-its-different-this-year-what-to-know-about-getting-your-shot/ | Flu season is now — however it’s totally different this yr. What to learn about getting your shot


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: hung@interreviewed.com.

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