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Get flu shots as soon as possible, the CDC warns of potentially severe season

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that flu and other respiratory diseases are being reported at a higher rate than usual in this period of the year.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of CDC, stated that “we’ve noticed that flu activity has started to increase across many of the countries”, especially in the Southeast and South Central U.S.

“Not everyone got the flu vaccine last year and many people didn’t get the flu. This makes it possible for us to experience a severe flu season.

Flu season peaks in February and December.

Walensky’s warning comes before a CDC report about flu spread that is expected Friday. The agency is expected to report that flu and other viral diseases are at an all-time high in Texas, California, Georgia, and Louisiana.

According to Dr. James Cutrell of UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, there has been a “very steep rise” in the number of documented flu cases and those with influenza-like diseases. Cutrell stated that this includes adults and children.

The CDC and other health officials monitor flu activity by monitoring “influenza-like illnesses” rather than reporting every positive flu test. Doctors do not have to report each flu test to the public. These are those who have a fever above 100 degrees, a sore throat, and a cough without any other known causes.

A San Diego school district reported Wednesday that there were “hundreds of absences” at a local high school due to an epidemic of flu. Many children reported feeling a sore throat, fever, cough, and congestion.

The station reported that so far, there have been no positive tests for Covid. However, several students have tested positive for the flu.

According to KNSD reporting, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, deputy public health officer for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency said that “Unfortunately, this would be an extremely severe influenza season.” Other respiratory viruses, such as Covid-19 are also making a rapid return.

Frank Esper, a Cleveland Clinic infectious disease expert, said, “Right now we’re in an

enormous spike of RSV.” RSV is often a problem in babies. However, it can also affect adults who have underlying lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive and restrictive pulmonary disease.

Esper stated that RSV cases are most common in December and January. However, for the past two years, Esper has observed that the typical RSV season occurs during the summer and early fall. Enteroviruses as well as Rhinoviruses are now circulating earlier than normal. Because other viruses have not been able to spread as much in the past, measures taken to stop Covid spread are causing this.

Esper stated that flu is on the rise but also other viruses. “This could be the new norm. We don’t know.

RSV is not a vaccine, but there is one for influenza. Walensky stated that “about 12,000,000 flu vaccines” have been administered in pharmacies and physician’s offices so far this year.

She said that this is slightly less than what she received at the same time last year. However, she acknowledged that vaccine fatigue may have contributed to the lower rate.

To provide complete protection, it takes approximately two weeks from the flu vaccine injection. Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu shot every year, according to the CDC.

Walensky stated that “we do want people to be protected before they get influenza in their communities.”

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