Preventive COVID Measures Have Reduced Flu Season Cases

Rebecca Johnson, SEKMCHD Director.

The 2020-2021 flu season saw a 96% drop in total flu deaths from the 2019-2020 flu season. In the 20-21 flu season, there were 2 deaths where flu was the contributing cause of death and 4 deaths where flu was the direct cause of death, compared to 19-20 flu season where 23 deaths where flu was the contributing cause and 118 deaths where flu was the direct cause. There was also a drastic decrease in strep and other contagious illnesses during the 20-21 season as well.

What were we doing different in the 20-21 flu season compared to the 19-20 flu season? Many of us were wearing masks, social distancing, using better hygiene, staying home and getting our flu shot. With COVID-19 still being actively transmitted in our communities, I encourage our residents to continue to wear a mask in large gatherings, socially distance, use good hygiene, stay home when you are sick, get vaccinated for COVID-19 (if eligible) and for the flu.

Getting the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine helps to protect you, your family, and your community against the flu and COVID-19 during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The flu shot does not cause the flu. The COVID-19 vaccine does not cause COVID-19. Some people may have a mild reaction after getting their vaccine, but this does not mean they’ve contracted the flu or COVID-19.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) recommended that the quadrivalent formulation of egg-based influenza vaccines for the U.S. 2021-2022 influenza season contain the following:

  • an A/Victoria/2570/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Cambodia/e0826360/2020 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019- like virus (B/Victoria lineage);
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage).

The committee recommended that the quadrivalent formulation of cell- or recombinant based influenza vaccines for the U.S. 2021-2022 influenza season contain the following:

  • an A/Wisconsin/588/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Cambodia/e0826360/2020 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019- like virus (B/Victoria lineage);
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage).

Children aged 6 months through 8 years require 2 doses of the flu vaccine IF they have not received 2 or more doses of the flu vaccine 4 or more weeks apart before July 1, 2021. 2 doses are recommended even if the child turns 9 between dose 1 and 2. Otherwise, this age group would only require 1 dose for the 20-21 flu season. Adults and children aged 9 years or older need only 1 dose of flu vaccine for the 20-21 flu season. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions, get a flu shot every year.

You may receive the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for 12 years and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are for 18 years and older. By getting vaccinated, you can help slow the spread!

Our 4 health department locations in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon and Woodson Counties are all carrying the flu vaccine, as well as the COVID-19 vaccine. Mondays are walk-in days, but otherwise someone wanting a vaccine would need to call for an appointment. Some of our offices will be going out to do flu clinics soon, so if you don’t catch us, please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible. Allen (620)365-2191; Anderson (785)448-6559; Bourbon (620)223-4464; Woodson (620)625-2484.

Because flu cases have begun to pop up in the US and COVID-19 cases are somewhat staying steady or climbing, if you or your children start showing symptoms, please stay home from work and school/daycare. I also recommend getting tested if symptomatic. There have been several COVID-19 school/daycare cases in our region recently when the parent thought the child just had allergies, sent the child to school/daycare and then spread COVID-19 to other children. If you’re a parent and have not had a child in isolation or quarantine yet, consider yourself blessed, for many reasons, and do your part to prevent others from having to as well.

KDHE reports this week (9/22/21) that there have been 5,919 deaths from COVID-19 and over 400,000 cases of COVID-19 in Kansas since March of 2020. So, that’s approximately 98% more deaths from COVID-19 in Kansas than from the flu within the last 2 flu seasons combined. Please do your part to prevent both of these illnesses. Wear a mask in large gatherings, social distance, use good hygiene, stay home when sick and get vaccinated for COVID-19 (if eligible) and for the flu!

Submitted  by Rebecca Johnson BSN, RN, SEK Multi-County Health Department Administrator, 524 S. Lowman, Ft. Scott, KS 66701.

P(620)223-4464 F(620)223-1686

2 thoughts on “Preventive COVID Measures Have Reduced Flu Season Cases”

  1. From your article, “The 2020-2021 flu season saw a 96% drop in total flu deaths from the 2019-2020 flu season.” Now THAT, is pretty amazing, no doubt about it.

    We are living in amazing times, especially when it comes to the common flu.
    For example here are the numbers of confirmed flu cases thru the years, one of which is completely amazing !
    2012 Flu cases=34 million
    2013 =30 million
    2014=30 million
    2015=24 million
    2016=29 million
    2017=45 million
    2018=36 million
    2019=38 million
    And from the CDC’s own website I quote this stat about the 2020 flu season=1,675 AMAZING !!

    Summary
    What was the 2020-2021 flu season like?
    Flu activity was unusually low throughout the 2020-2021 flu season both in the United States and globally, despite high levels of testing. During September 28, 2020–May 22, 2021 in the United States, 1,675 (0.2%) of 818,939 respiratory specimens tested by U.S. clinical laboratories were positive for an influenza virus.

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