Saturday morning I finally rolled up my sleeves for the vaccine I’ve been waiting for all summer: my annual Influenza vaccination, The technical wonder I choose to receive every fall.
In the absence of a pandemic, the flu vaccine is a hot autumn product that holds a coveted place in the spotlight of public health. Recently, the shot is hidden by the prominence of a cousin who blocks that COVID, booster When Mandate.. It’s been a while since I was directly suffering from the flu. Thanks to the infection prevention measures the world took to fight SARS-CoV-2 when the pandemic began Many other respiratory viruses have disappeared.. Last winter we were essentially “there was no flu season at all,” Florian Kramer, a virologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told me. Human attention is short. The short flu sabbatical may have wiped out the flu from our hearts at the wrong time.
Non-existent viruses are not always extinct, and the recurrence of influenza will always be a problem. when, No If. And as the weather cools, experts are worried that skipping the sick season can be costly unless we raise a new anti-influenza shield. Immune defenses can rust and crumble. The flu virus may come back to find a larger number of hosts that are more vulnerable than before. Especially now that the children are back in the classroom and the mask ennui is swelling nationwide. “I’m worried we’re not paying attention,” said Hana El Surly, an infectious disease specialist and vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine.Therefore, influenza vaccination Especially worth this year— Probably more than it has been for quite some time.
Concerns about the recurrence of influenza are not new.Back in February when I first wrote Calm down in case of fluExperts have already warned that the truthfulness of bugs can make them more unpredictable. Influenza virus is already a familiar threat to our immune system, Hard to spread Compared to SARS-CoV-2, it was easier to punch out even if compliance was insufficient, such as masks, physical distance, school closures, and bans on overseas travel.Incidents around the world Plunge.. But “no one expected the flu to go away forever,” Mary Crowland, an infectious disease modeler at the University of Pittsburgh, told me.
Now we are bullying at the end of this year’s chilly turn Pandemic limits wax When Declined.. Many experts suspect that the flu season may be worse than in the previous season. because The previous one was very calm. The threshold for this year’s outbreak can be very low. “I’m probably 60-40 years old. I have 60 seasons, but not 40 seasons,” said Richard Webby, an influenza expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee. “My intuition is that if it comes back, there will be a little more punch.”
The absence of influenza had a positive effect. It has already escaped the swell of the second winter illness to health care workers, hospitals, and the general public, in addition to the overwhelming pandemic. Our non-influenza season also proliferated, transformed, and starved persistent host viruses. Some experts expect that a particular strain may have completely disappeared, or at least approached. That may mean less flu flavors we will deal with and vaccinate in the future, although their disappearance is not yet certain.
But the previous season also left us with sometimes forgotten immune cells without significant annual reminders: the flu virus is actually present and can cause serious havoc to the body. Reasonably good The coverage of the flu vaccine last winter certainly shook our body’s memory. However, there are no additional alarms caused by the actual illness. Millions In the United States alone, people’s bodies may not be as well-tuned as they should be. “We really need a wave of the seasons to boost population-level immunity and prevent outbreaks,” Helen Chu, a doctor and immunologist at the University of Washington, told me.
Infants and toddlers may be particularly vulnerable this year as they may have never encountered the flu virus. Schools are reopened, many do not require masks and pose a risk to both children and those who interact with them. “When it comes to influenza, children are the driving force behind the transmission in the community,” said El Surly. Previews of this pattern have already been deployed in spring and summer with respiratory syncytial virus. Respiratory syncytial virus is another airway-loving pathogen that attacks children particularly violently. Like the flu virus, RSV almost evaporated last winter, but was able to return to the American population in early April, when many COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed.
two recently A model from Crowland and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh, posted in a preprint paper last month, hints at the sacrifice of missing out on our annual immunity buildup. Studies show that both influenza cases and hospitalizations may experience uplifts this year that may exceed that of the typical season. This is especially likely if COVID precautions continue to crumble, or if we are hit by a particularly contagious influenza strain that our body is not well aware of. Worryingly, other experts say that the flu virus and SARS-CoV-2 can even invade some of the same individual at once, which is a very serious illness attack among vulnerable people. Pointed out that it may encourage.
These are not natural conclusions, Cuon Lee, who led one of the studies, told me. Our social behavior has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Even intermittent masking and distance can dampen future flu campaigns.of AustraliaInfluenza levels remain fairly low in countries that countries in the north of the world usually consider to be epidemic bells, which could be a good sign for the United States, said Evekun, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Duke University. Cal told me (she added that the American approach to COVID containment was “significantly different” from the Australian approach. The number of cases was surprisingly low last year and pre-pandemic standards. It may end in the meantime.
There are also very powerful but underutilized tools: immunity-boosting vaccines. Influenza vaccination is usually About half of the US populationHowever, Lee believes it is essential to ratchet up that percentage this year. That’s because COVID mitigation measures can help block some of the cracks left in our anti-influenza armor. “It may be especially important to get the flu vaccine this season,” wrote Lynnette Brammer, who heads the CDC’s national flu monitoring team, in an email. But there is yet another problem.Monitoring centers located around the world can usually accumulate Thousands of viral genome sequences Carefully read which version of the flu virus is prevalent. If you get the chance, which version is ready to come back? Scientists mine this wealth of data when selecting strains for annual shots. But last winter, its genetic source was depleted. “It’s hard to choose without a clear idea of what’s there,” Kramer told me.
However, Sufficient Data for making informed decisions, experts reassured me. “The game is always gambling,” he said. Committee member It advised on the FDA’s final vaccine prescription. “Even if you have a high infection rate in advance, strain selection is not guaranteed.” Generally speaking, the effectiveness of influenza vaccination against disease is About 60 percent..But like most other immunizations, vaccines are good at suppressing Severity Keeping symptoms and people away from the hospital. Even a slightly mismatched vaccine can have a significant impact on the effects of the virus. “No matter what, it will protect you at least a little,” Chu said.
Influenza vaccination is also good for hedging bets. Standard “4 valenceThe formulation contains a safe and inactivated representative 4 branches Influenza trees: H1N1 and H3N2, subtypes belonging to the influenza A family, and strains of B / Victoria and B / Yamagata, influenza B family. Flu-A viruses generally change shape more rapidly than their B-listed cousins, so these components change more often.The shots I took this weekend were included Two updatesHopefully it will prepare me better for the flu strain du Jules, compared to last year’s recipe. (Kalu pointed out another perk: while still waiting for the official green light of the COVID-19 vaccine for crowds under the age of 12, influenza vaccination is currently available For children 6 months old.. )
No matter how the flu hits this winter, my recent vaccine is an insurance policy. In any case, I’m more protected than before.It was also easy to get a shot.. I was able to get a promise on my first attempt. The injection itself was free and painless, but my local CVS took only one second. (By the way, influenza vaccination and COVID-19 vaccination are simultaneous.. It was clearly the awakening my body needed: within a few hours my arms were slightly swollen. Eventually, so did the lymph nodes next to it. Probably because it was filled with a horde of moody, flu-sensitive immune cells caused by two years of sleep. It hurts a little and I’m a little tired. I feel much better than before.
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