During the COVID-19 lockdown, masking, social distancing and other precautions also protected people from contracting the seasonal flu. The preventive measures kept the influenza virus from spreading. Dr. Beth Thielen, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the University of Minnesota, says this year is likely going to be different.
"This year, we're not going to have the mild flu season that we did last year." says Thielen. "We're already beginning to see numbers tick up. And there is a lot of worry, given how taxed our health care systems are right now. We know every year that the flu kills somewhere between 30,000 and 50 Americans."
Thielen says the best and simplest way to protect your family from the flu is to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over 6 months of age and older should get the seasonal flu vaccine, with rare exceptions.
Thielen says that both flu shots and FluMist are available. And that both help protect against the strains of flu circulating this year— two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B.
Symptoms of the seasonal flu overlap with those of COVID and may include:
If you child has symptoms, how do you know whether it's COVID, flu or something else? Thielen says the only way to be certain of a diagnosis is to get tested. She recommends that anyone with symptoms should get a COVID-19 test. If the test rules out COVID, talk to your health care provider to see if you or your child would benefit from treatment.
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