Flu Season Makes Comeback After Unusual Year Off Due to COVID-19
With Omicron cases soaring, flu season makes a comeback after going underground last year.
The flu virus, after being subsumed by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, has made an unwelcome comeback, according to health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported some 2,500 nationwide influenza cases from clinical tests for the week ending Dec. 11. Though that figure isn't unusual for this time of year, it also represents a number not seen since the coronavirus pandemic erupted.
“This is setting itself up to be more of a normal flu season,” said Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like cases for the public health agency.
Two children died during that reporting period. Those deaths, Brammer said, are “unfortunately what we would expect when flu activity picks up. It’s a sad reminder of how severe flu can be.”
During last year’s light flu season, one child died. In comparison,199 children died from flu two years ago, and 144 three years ago.
After nearly vanishing in last year's flu season, the virus is back, just as Omicron cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. The unusual drop in flu numbers is most likely due to travel cancellations, shuttered schools, social distancing and mask-wearing while the coronavirus exploded, health officials said.
With hospitals already filling with COVID-19 patients, it is imperative for Americans to get a flu shot and to take preventive measures, Brammer said.
“Cover your cough. Wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick,” she said. “If you do get flu, there are antivirals you can talk to your doctor about that can prevent severe illness and help you stay out of the hospital.”
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