Seasonal influenza is predicted to achieve exceptionally excessive ranges this yr, well being officers stated on Sunday because the annual flu vaccination marketing campaign was launched.
Flu is among the commonest and extremely infectious winter viruses. Much like coronavirus, it’s transmitted from individual to individual primarily by droplets exhaled when individuals cough, sneeze and even speak.
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Since March 2020, Israel has had no identified instances of the flu.
Dr. David Mossinson, the chief medical officer for Meuhedet Well being Companies, defined that the state of affairs arose largely as a result of individuals have been cautious about sporting masks in almost all conditions final yr. As well as, throughout the interval when influenza would have been spreading across the nation, individuals have been in lockdown and faculties and preschools have been closed.
“Social distancing and masks made the flu season final yr virtually non-existent in our lives, and the final time there was such a low morbidity price was in 1988,” stated Meuhedet Chief Nursing Officer Mali Kusha.
Nonetheless, what Israel and the remainder of the world noticed in the summertime, when individuals began taking off their masks, was a “soar in respiratory viruses and infections,” Mossinson stated.
“There was an uncommon and surprising enhance in respiratory infections that normally characterize the winter months. The consequence was a major burden on the well being system that we don’t usually see in the summertime months – and this phenomenon was additionally reported worldwide.”
In Israel, he stated the pediatric wards have been full. Now, docs consider that the speed of flu in Israel will likely be even greater this yr, not solely than final yr, however greater than earlier years, they usually suppose the virus will strike earlier, too.
The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) has predicted as a lot as a 20% enhance in flu instances within the US, with additional easing of restrictions and resumption of worldwide journey.
Nonetheless, with vaccination and good hygiene – very similar to with COVID-19 – a deadly state of affairs could be prevented, Mossinson stated.
The flu virus adjustments yearly and due to this fact individuals have to obtain a brand new shot. The flu vaccine is produced primarily based on the forecast of the World Well being Group as to which strains are anticipated to flow into. Most often, the forecasts have been correct and the vaccine has labored.
The vaccine is most essential for individuals in 4 goal teams: individuals over 65, pregnant ladies, these with continual sicknesses and infants and kids aged six months to 12 who can’t be vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19.
This yr, Meuhedet is providing the Fluzone Excessive-Dose influenza vaccine for individuals over the age of 65, which is 24% simpler.
Between 70% and 80% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in individuals 65 years and older, in line with the CDC. Additionally, 50% to 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred amongst individuals on this age group.
In most years, round 60% of Israel’s aged inhabitants is vaccinated.
All the well being funds have the usual and nasal spray flu vaccines for individuals in different age cohorts.
Furthermore, this yr, individuals can obtain the flu and COVID-19 vaccines on the identical time, though ideally in numerous limbs.
“Final yr, after we began vaccinating in December, we lacked details about the brand new COVID vaccines so we didn’t enable individuals to take them collectively,” Mossinson stated, noting that the protocol had been to have a 14-day hole between the 2 photographs.
He stated that folks ought to rush to get their vaccines earlier than the top of subsequent month when the flu is predicted to reach.
Might taking the flu vaccine assist keep off COVID and vice versa?
“We’ve got some preliminary proof,” Mossinson stated. “However normally, individuals who take their vaccines are additionally people who find themselves extra conscious of their well being and I believe that has extra to do with it.”
He stated, “There may be nothing that’s proof primarily based to date, however perhaps, we’ll see.”