The flu shot is a valuable and life-saving public health tool that remains the best defense against an influenza virus that kills and sickens too many of our friends, neighbors and family members each year.
Experts, including myself, believe the combination of both the coronavirus and influenza virus swirling together throughout the US this fall and winter has the potential to exacerbate the strain on an already struggling public health system.
This makes the life-saving flu vaccine more critical than ever. Let me state this as clearly and unambiguously as possible: get the flu shot starting in September. Don’t wait for reports of a spike in the influenza virus before taking advantage of the vaccine.
Getting the flu shot at the beginning of the season allows for the time needed to build up immunity and protection from this year’s influenza virus.
As part of the select group of scientists who make recommendations on each year’s flu vaccine at the World Health Organization, my colleagues and I look to the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season for clues of what will come North.
These measures work equally, if not better, to also prevent flu. Yet, as we prepare for both viruses in the fall, it is going to be critical to develop methods for simultaneously detecting influenza and Covid-19 infections.
Given the strain on public health resources in the age of Covid, a multipurpose test would be a major public health benefit.
Because the symptoms of Covid-19 and influenza are very similar, deciphering between the two viruses could be a problem when patients are infected with both. It could also be critical for providing health care workers with sufficient information to care for patients.