After the frequent hand washing, social distancing, staying at home and the mask mandate ramping up last summer to prevent the spread of Covid19, I began to think about how these practices would help prevent other ailments.  Typically, each fall we prepare for the common cold and the flu.  Most Americans make the decision, each year to get or not get the annual flu shot.  Sometimes you get it, other times you don’t depend on whether you hear a story that someone got the flu from the shot itself.

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If you believe in the science, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says public health and clinical labs documented 2,038 influenza cases between September 27, 2020, and April 24, 2021.  In layman’s terms, those numbers are very low.  Even the common cold statistics were down.

Dr. John Swartzberg, a professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of California, Berkeley in the school of public health said,

“It’s been an amazing year.  In all my years of being a flu watcher, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

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Now that all those Coronavirus precautions have been relaxed in New Jersey, guess what?  We can’t.  Better stock up on aloe-infused tissues, those annual viruses are coming back.  You said you couldn’t wait for things to get back to normal right?  Careful what you wish for.

More and more New Jersians whose test results are ruling out Covid19 are showing positive results for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).  What starts out presenting as a common cold ends up becoming bronchitis.  As for the flu, experts are a little concerned.  At the World Health Organization’s bi-annual meetings they typically rely on the previous year's data to determine the following year's flu vaccine.  Not much to go on this year.

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Dr. Swartzberg added,

“Normally and unfortunately, we have a wealth of data to base the next year’s flu vaccines on.  But we don’t have a lot of that this year.”

In any case, production for the flu vaccine is increasing as the fall months approach.  The proverbial “petri-dish” will be in play as parents are going back to the office and kids are going back to school.

Put it on your calendar, the flu season runs from October through April.

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