Protect yourself from the flu
Mention vaccines these days, and chances are the talk will be about when some protection against COVID-19 can be expected. Another killer is about to take the stage, however.
“Regular” influenza — actually multiple viruses that vary in threat level, depending on the year — strikes annually. Fortunately, vaccines against it are available already.
Influenza kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu claimed as many as 62,000 lives in this country during the 2019-20 season. It is important to note that the CDC stopped reporting flu fatalities on April 4. The actual toll may have been higher than we know.
One thing we do understand is this: COVID-19 seems to target older people with pre-existing health care conditions. The overwhelming majority of what we call coronavirus deaths have been in that age group (COVID-19 is not the only coronavirus).
Children and other younger people have been numbered under the COVID-19 victims, but the risk to them seems relatively low.
Annual influenza outbreaks are different. They can be more dangerous than COVID-19 to younger people.
Again, however, protection is available. Infectious disease experts annually work to identify flu strains likely to strike. Vaccines against them are prepared in large quantities.
They are available right now to anyone who wants to be vaccinated. Pharmacies, doctors’ offices, clinics and health departments everywhere have it available. Most insurance plans cover the cost. Those without coverage often can obtain the vaccine at low or no cost, often through health departments.
Get it. Plainly and simply, the flu season will be upon us soon. It will be a threat to you — and your loved ones, perhaps including children.
We may have to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine. Protection against “regular” flu is available now. Be smart. Be safe. Get vaccinated as soon as possible.