Miami, Florida – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tallied at least 3.8 million infections.
Health officials in Eastern Kentucky are asking residents to wash their hands frequently and get vaccinated. Not because of COVID-19, but because of an unusual spring spike in the flu.
“The flu season would run from like, starting typically in October in a normal year and be really tapering down by February, March,” said Kentucky River Region Public Health Director Scott Lockard.
One county just saw 46 new cases in one week. Well into April, the Centers for Disease Control is tracking an increase in influenza activity across the country. “We’re all so preoccupied with COVID that perhaps we’ve taken our eye off flu,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
According to Dr. Schaffner, the spring spike is unusual, but not surprising. “The best explanation as to why we’re seeing a slight increase in flu is that we’ve taken off our masks. We’re getting out and about. We’re going to indoor activities,” he said.
Another factor in the spread of the flu is that this year’s vaccine offered little protection against infection.
Last month, the CDC found in a study that the shot was just 16 percent effective at preventing mild or moderate cases. “This year’s flu shot didn’t perform all that well. And that’s because it was off target from the actual virus. Just enough so that its effectiveness was much reduced,” said Dr. Schaffner.
According to doctors, the end is in sight, and as summer approaches, the flu will go back into hibernation.