With our focus on COVID-19, we forget about diseases like the flu and RSV. During this 2022-23 season, flu-related pediatric deaths have reached the highest level since before the pandemic started.
I know that there is a chunk of the population who thinks that flu is a minor disease not worthy of attention, but it kills. In years before the COVID-19 pandemic, in which masks, social distancing, and social isolation reduced the flu virus transmission, influenza regularly kills around 50,000 people annually in the USA alone.
2022-23 flu season pediatric deaths
The CDC recently reported that the number of flu-related pediatric deaths during the 2022-23 flu season is the highest since the 2019-20 flu season, which included the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this flu season, there have been 47 pediatric fatalities compared to 44 during the entire 2021-22 flu season and one during the 2020-21 flu season. There were 199 pediatric fatalities during the 2019-20 flu season.
Beyond just pediatric deaths, there were 408 flu fatalities last week
I know these numbers seem small, but in my world of logic preventing even one death is important. And we have a seasonal flu vaccine that is available that is very safe and reasonably effective against the flu. And we have a pediatric version of that vaccine that stops the flu in children and babies — get the vaccine and reduce their risk of dying by quite a bit.
We will soon have a combination flu/COVID vaccine that will reduce the number of vaccinations that children will need to protect themselves against the flu and new COVID-19 variants that will invariably arise over the next few years.
I think there's some good news that this flu season may not turn out to be as bad as predicted because people are still being careful in public — mostly. Moreover, many people older than 50 have received all of their COVID-19 boosters and got their flu vaccines at the same time. That help keep the disease at bay. I hope.
Vaccines, one more time
I know people are tired of talking about vaccines, but they are the most significant innovations in medicine. EVER. They have stopped diseases that we just don't talk about anymore, like smallpox, polio, typhoid fever, and others. Even though I remain concerned about measles, we've been able to effectively reduce its impact in most of the world because, wait for it, safe and effective vaccines against measles.
The flu vaccine is generally free in countries like the USA. Get it and maybe you can help save a few lives. And maybe one of those lives could be a child.
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