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A Welcome Benefit
2021-02-17

            Hope for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic grows each day.  More and more people are getting the chance to receive one of three vaccines available.

            It hasn't been easy.  But hope for better distribution of the vaccines appears to be right around the corner.

            To those who will choose to get the vaccine, hang in there.  Distribution will get better – no matter how hard politicians try to mess it up.

            We all are doing our part by continuing to wear masks, social distancing and practicing other habits that continue to help bring down the numbers of those infected.

            An interesting report was delivered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week – the flu has been virtually nonexistent this season.  There have been just 165 flu-related hospitalizations recorded in the United States between Oct. 1, 2020 and Feb. 6, 2021.  It is the lowest rate of hospitalization since that data has been tallied.

            During the 2019-2020 flu season, about 400,000 people were hospitalized and there were 22,000 deaths.

            Last summer, public health officials sounded warnings about the dangers of an impending flu epidemic on top of the coronavirus pandemic.

            The CDC reported that with many schools closed, more school students have been staying home during the global health crisis.  That has likely helped in stopping the spread of influenza.

            According to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, COVID can be transmitted very readily among adults and is very contagious.  But influenza really needs children to spread it around amongst themselves and then spread it to the adults in their home and their neighbors.

            "Children are generally thought of as having the distribution franchise for the influenza virus," he added. "They produce much more virus, they shed more virus for longer periods of time."  The result highlights a distinction in the nature of transmission among respiratory viruses.

            In 2020, a record number of people got the flu shot amid warnings from health experts of the unprecedented combination of the flu season and the deadly coronavirus pandemic. 

            According to the CDC report, nearly 52 percent of people age 6 months and older were inoculated, an increase of 2.6 percent from the prior season.  They added that the mild season has also been aided by COVID-19 safety measures, including mask wearing and social distancing.

            So, the cautions we exercised over the past 10 months have had an added benefit by limiting those infected with influenza.

            That reduction was a welcome benefit.


 

 

 

 

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