Oct. 19, 2021 — With the potential for a giant outbreak of flu this winter, it’s extra essential than ever to make it possible for youngsters get the flu vaccine as quickly as attainable, in keeping with flu trackers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends everybody over the age of 6 months get an annual flu shot, ideally by the top of this month.
Two mathematical fashions predict a rebound within the variety of flu circumstances and the way extreme they are going to be in 2021-22. Final yr’s flu season failed to point out up when public well being measures introduced in to regulate COVID-19 appeared to have the additional benefit of stopping the flu.
However each analyses, posted to the medRxiv preprint server and never but peer-reviewed by different specialists, have come to the identical conclusion: The flu might make a comeback this yr.
There may be already some proof that youngsters could be at greater threat of respiratory infections than common as the general public well being measures that had been introduced in to battle COVID-19 are relaxed, says Flor Munoz, MD, an affiliate professor of pediatrics at Baylor Faculty of Medication in Houston who was an writer of the American Academy of Pediatrics coverage.
There have been extra circumstances of respiratory syncytial virus and different viruses amongst youngsters this summer season, regardless that these diseases should not usually reported that point of yr.
“It is clear that youngsters are being uncovered to respiratory viruses, and the second that influenza begins taking maintain locally, they are going to be in danger,” Munoz says.
Extra Individuals at Threat
After final yr’s lacking flu season, there isn’t a query that there are actually extra people who find themselves liable to catch the flu, says Munoz. “Lots of people have not had the flu for about 2 years, and with low vaccination numbers, meaning there might be a bigger pool of prone folks,” she says.
That lack of herd immunity, which often comes from a mix of vaccinations and individuals who had been uncovered to associated strains of the virus, means youngsters specifically may very well be at excessive threat of an infection this yr, says Mark Roberts, MD, director of the Public Well being Dynamics Laboratory on the College of Pittsburgh.
In a standard yr, round 180-200 youngsters die from the flu. However final yr, just one demise was recorded. “Only a few children acquired influenza final yr, so younger children have nearly no pure immunity,” he says.
Kids are additionally a pretty big transmitter of the flu, Roberts says, which makes infections in children a hazard not solely to themselves, however to different prone folks they could come into contact with.
“So it’s actually essential to vaccinate youngsters,” he says.
With the approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for kids youthful than 12 anticipated quickly, some mother and father could be inclined to carry off on flu pictures for his or her children to keep away from any problems. However the CDC says it’s protected to get each vaccines shut collectively, and even on the identical time.
Munoz says folks needs to be conscious that each vaccines could cause reactions and plan forward, particularly if they’ve had reactions previously.
“You may take them on the identical time, or at completely different occasions, so long as you get each vaccines,” she says.
It’s by no means straightforward to forecast what the upcoming flu season will appear like.
“There may very well be not simply extra flu this yr, however extra extreme illness as nicely,” Munoz says.
However it’s also attainable that we now have one other gentle season if the influenza virus takes longer to bounce again from the extraordinarily low numbers seen over the previous yr.
“Each flu outbreak is completely different and unpredictable,” she says.