Flu season’s here and it’s time to get your shot. Here’s what’s different this year


It is flu season. And meaning it is flu shot season.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For essentially 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 stated 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, nevertheless: We have been ready for our 2021 flu shot.

Flu season is right here once more, and the infections will overlap with the continued COVID-19 pandemic, creating the potential of a “twindemic” of two distinct, harmful diseases that trigger (amongst different issues) respiratory misery, hospitalizations and loss of life for thousands and thousands of individuals. Nationwide lockdowns that stored individuals distanced, blended with the annual flu shot, largely helped dodge the double blast of infections final yr. However this yr, issues are totally different. Many different viruses, like RSV and rhinovirus, coming again. And the flu possible will observe go well with. 

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 thousands and thousands of individuals within the US catch the influenza virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and tens of hundreds die from flu-related causes. With COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots now approved — 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 turn into political points, not simply public well being issues.

We talked with three flu-vaccine consultants about what to anticipate this flu season — learn on for his or her sensible steerage and issues. For extra on the flu, this is where you can get your shot in 2021, which flu-shot side effects it’s possible you’ll expertise and why epidemiologists recommend 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 often runs October to Might, in keeping with the consultants we spoke to. However the flu virus is much less involved with the seasons and extra interested by spreading. So the timing this yr might be much less predictable, consultants 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, consultants advocate you get your flu vaccine now.


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“Now we have a standard time once we anticipate the flu,” Peter Chin-Hong, a medical physician and professor within the Well being Division of Infectious Illnesses on the University of California, San Francisco, instructed CNET. “However this yr, it might be atypical or drag on longer, so that is what individuals should be ready for.”

The same 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 stated. 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.

What to know in regards to the flu vaccine’s effectiveness this yr

Vaccine-makers monitor which flu strains are at present circulating and forecast that are largely prone to turn into the dominant strains in the course of the upcoming flu season. These drug producers then produce a flu vaccine — your flu shot — utilizing three and generally 4 of the most certainly 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 obtained a flu shot, in keeping 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 as if a typo, it’s so unbelievably low: 2,038 flu instances reported in the course of the 2020-2021 flu season vs. 38 million instances 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 possible flu strains — known as a quadrivalent flu vaccine — to extend the probabilities of protecting the dominant pressure this yr. 

“There was sufficient knowledge to make a great educated guess,” stated 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 obtained it proper.”

As with the COVID-19 vaccines, the flu shot is just not 100% efficient in guarding towards an infection. However just like the coronavirus photographs, 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 scale back the danger of getting to go to the physician 40 to 60%

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

Anticipate to e book an appointment to get your flu shot

In the event you’re used to strolling as much as your native pharmacy, hospital or clinic to get a flu shot each time it is most handy to you, it’s possible you’ll discover this yr that it’s important to schedule an appointment as a substitute. 

Indicators in an area pharmacy instruct prospects to make an appointment for each flu and COVID photographs, 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 individuals to schedule their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated,” Ban stated, including which you can additionally name Walgreens’ toll-free number to make an appointment.


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

It is secure to get your COVID and flu photographs 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 ought to be as straightforward to get because the COVID-19 vaccination.

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

For extra on vaccines this fall, this is what we all know in regards to the Pfizer COVID-19 booster and the Moderna vaccine booster. And this is the most recent on the Johnson & Johnson booster.

The data contained on this article is for instructional 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 relating to any questions you might have a couple of medical situation or well being aims.

https://www.cnet.com/well being/flu-seasons-here-and-its-time-to-get-your-shot-heres-whats-different-this-year/ | Flu season’s right here and it is time to get your shot. This is what’s totally different this yr


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