COVID-19 precautions lead to fewer flu cases this season
Face masks, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes are all things we kept close by during the pandemic and they helped us. There were fewer flu cases this flu season.
But, as more people get vaccinated and some let their guard down, doctors are worried about the troubles that next flu season could bring.
This flu season saw fewer patients walking through Dr. William Bentz doors asking for help.
“Everybody was preoccupied with the COVID-19 virus. So we actually probably had less flu questions this year,” Dr. Bentz said.
Despite the lack of focus on the flu, cases, hospitalizations and deaths went down.
“It’s been significantly reduced compared to previous years,” said Dr. Bentz.
In fact, nationally, the last time flu numbers were this low was 2005.
Joseph Pepe is the administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County.
“There was so much anxiety related to COVID, that if someone had those types of symptoms, they sought care sooner. When more likely to have a probably less severe illness,” Pepe said.
Pepe also suggests that early treatment lessened the flu’s impact.
“It meant a lot. When the hospital systems are stressed already from COVID, the last thing you want is another outbreak to add to that,” said Pepe.
University of Florida Infectious Disease Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi says while there was “twindemic” concern, luckily it didn’t turn out that way.
“There was a lot of concern for the twindemic. I think in many ways it did not happen; we are extremely fortunate that it did not happen,” said Dr. Cherabuddi.
Dr. Cherabuddi says this year’s unusually light flu season comes with unfortunate consequences.
“What we use in the vaccine is previous year’s strains,” Dr. Cherabuddi said. “What strains are we going to use in the next flu vaccine is one. Two, what does this mean for immunity for elderly folks who have not had or any exposure to the flu for a year, year and a half?”
Cherabuddi recommends that vulnerable and high-risk people continue to mask up the next flu season.