Connect with us

Health

What to Know about a 'Double-Barreled Flu Season' – Healthline

Published

 on


  • Two flu strains are overlapping each other this flu season.
  • This means you can get sick twice from different flu strains.
  • While the flu vaccine isn’t a perfect match, it’s the best defense against the flu.

To say this flu season has been abnormal is an understatement.

For one, the flu season got its earliest start in 16 years.

Up to 18 million people have gotten the flu this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest estimates. Up to 210,000 people have been hospitalized and thousands have died, including 39 children.

We’re also seeing B strains of the flu dominate, something that hasn’t happened in the United States in nearly 30 years.

And, unfortunately, the vaccine missed the mark with B/Victoria, the most common strain we’re seeing this year. The CDC believes the shot only covers about 58 percent of B-linked cases.

Now, halfway through flu season, A strains are picking up, increasing the odds we’ll have a “double-barreled flu season,” in which two strains strike back to back — a pattern health experts say is extremely rare.

Between the early start, rise in B strains, and recent spike in A-strain illnesses, this flu season officially has infectious disease experts stumped.

“This season has turned a lot of [what we know about flu] on its head,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the medical director at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “There’s a lot we know, and even more we don’t know about flu.”

A double-barreled flu season occurs when two flu outbreaks overlap one another, a pattern which is very unusual, according to flu experts.

Last year, for example, we saw A/H1N1 infections peak early, followed by another wave of A/H3N2 infections.

Though the predominant strains are different this year, we’re seeing the same pattern play out: Activity took off with B/Victoria and now that second wave of A/H1N1 is coming for us, according to Schaffner.

“Around the country, my colleagues and I are seeing H1N1 come up strong, and it’s now about 50-50 [with B/Victoria],” Schaffner told Healthline.

The most worrisome part of a double-barreled flu season is that you can get sick twice.

Just because you caught a B-strain flu doesn’t mean that you’re immune from the A strains.

“There will be the rare person who gets two flu infections in the same season — one with B and one with H1N1,” Schaffner said.

Though there will be some protection within each strain — in that contracting an A strain will protect you against other A strains, and B strains will protect against other B’s — there’s not much cross protection.

A double-barreled season also means we’re more likely to see a prolonged influenza season.

The fact that B strains are predominating this year isn’t just confusing, it’s concerning as well.

B strains haven’t hit this hard for nearly 30 years, since during the 1992–1993 season, the CDC told Healthline.

Additionally, we didn’t see much of the B strain in the past couple of years, according to Dr. Norman Moore, the director of infectious diseases for Abbott.

This means that many people — especially kids — have never been exposed to the strain, and consequently, don’t have residual immunity against it.

“When there’s a rarity, it actually sets you up for another bigger push to get it, because at that point, we really don’t have anybody with any strong immunity going around, so we’re all potential vessels for getting exposed and transmitting it,” Moore said.

This is one of the reasons kids are being hit harder this year. They’ve never been exposed to this type of the flu — it’s their first go around.

“These kids are just brand new to getting flu B,” Moore said.

And because we haven’t seen much of the B/Victoria strain in the past few years, this year’s vaccine missed the mark.

“We thought initially the match was perfect, but it’s not. It’s off a little bit, and that means in many populations the vaccine is not going to function optimally,” Schaffner explained.

Fortunately, the vaccine covers H1N1 well. According to Schaffner, the match to H1N1 is right on.

And because A strains circulate every year, most people have built up at least some “immune memory” to it — despite the fact these strains change and mutate each year.

“Our past experience with influenza viruses does give us some residual protection that lasts,” Schaffner said.

“It’s not too late,” Moore said about the vaccine, noting that we still don’t know for sure what’s going to happen next.

If flu A continues to get worse, as predicted, the flu shot will protect you through the rest of the season.

And even though the vaccine isn’t a perfect match to B strains, it can still help lessen the severity of the flu.

“If you’ve been vaccinated, and even if there is a mismatch, you are likely to have a less severe infection when you get it,” Schaffner said.

Remember: By getting immunized, you’re not only protecting yourself, but others as well who may be more at risk for developing severe complications — like the elderly, pregnant women, children under 2, and immunosuppressed people.

“When we protect ourselves, we are really protecting those around us,” Moore said.

Health experts say this has been an extremely unusual flu season. It started very early with a strain that we typically don’t see much of. Now, another strain is building momentum and creating a path for what’s known as a double-barreled flu season, in which two types of flu strike back to back. With a second wave coming, flu experts say it’s not too late to get vaccinated before things pick up again.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Vaccination plus infection offered most protection during Delta surge, U.S. study shows – CBC News

Published

 on


Protection against the previously-dominant Delta variant was highest among people who were both vaccinated and had survived a previous COVID-19 infection, according to a report published Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report also found those who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant, California and New York health officials reported on Wednesday.

Protection against Delta was lowest among those who had never been infected or vaccinated, the CDC report continued.

“The evidence in this report does not change our vaccination recommendations,” Dr. Ben Silk of the CDC and one of the study’s authors told a media briefing.

“We know that vaccination is still the safest way to protect yourself against COVID-19,” he said.

The findings do not apply to the Omicron variant of the virus, which now accounts for 99.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Study includes data from May to November

For the study, health officials in California and New York gathered data from May through November, which included the period when the Delta variant was dominant.

It showed that people who survived a previous infection had lower rates of COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated alone.

That represented a change from the period when the Alpha variant was dominant, Silk told the briefing.

“Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” he said.

In the summer and fall of 2021, however, when Delta became the predominant circulating iteration of the virus in the United States, “surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against the subsequent infection than vaccination,” he said.

But acquiring immunity through natural infection carries significant risks. According to the study, by Nov. 30, 2021, roughly 130,781 residents of California and New York had died from COVID-19.

The analysis did not include information on the severity of initial infection, nor does it account for the full range of illness caused by prior infection.

One important limitation to the study was that it ended before administration of vaccine booster doses was widespread.

WATCH | Experts agree the science behind booster shots is sound:

The safe science behind COVID-19 booster shots

5 days ago

Duration 1:55

While some Canadians who have received their booster shots have later tested positive for COVID-19, medical experts agree that the science behind booster jabs is sound. 1:55

‘Clearly shows’ vaccines provide safest protection

Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health, said in an email that the study “clearly shows” that vaccines provide the safest protection against COVID-19 and they offer added protection for those with prior infections.

“Outside of this study, recent data on the highly contagious Omicron variant shows that getting a booster provides significant additional protection against infection, hospitalization and death,” Pan said.

Silk said the CDC is studying the impact of vaccination, boosters and prior infection during the Omicron surge and expects to issue further reports when that data becomes available.

So far, Omicron has proven to evade some level of immunity from both vaccination and previous infection, but vaccines are still largely preventing serious illness and death.

An Israeli hospital on Monday also said preliminary research indicates a fourth dose of leading mRNA-based vaccines provides only limited defence against infection from the variant.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

COVID-19: Go-Vaxx mobile vaccination clinic to return to Haliburton County with 3 stops – Globalnews.ca

Published

 on


Ontario’s GO-VAXX mobile vaccination clinic is making three stops in Haliburton County in the coming weeks, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit announced Wednesday.

The retrofitted GO bus will provide first, second and boosters doses of COVID-19 vaccinations to any eligible residents, including doses for children ages 5-11. Moderna will be provided to individuals 30 and older, unless they have a documented allergy to Moderna.

Read more:

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill not a replacement for COVID-19 vaccine, officials say

All appointments must be booked in advance through the Provincial Booking System or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Appointments can be booked starting at 8 a.m. the day before the clinic.

Clinics will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

  • Saturday, Jan. 29 : A.J. LaRue Arena, 728 Mountain St., in Haliburton
  • Saturday, Feb. 5: Lloyd Watson Community Centre, 2249 Loop Rd., in Wilberforce
  • Saturday Feb. 12: A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton

“Being fully vaccinated with a booster dose has proven to be effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization against the Omicron variant,” said Doreen Boville, health promoter with the health unit. “To ensure anyone needing a vaccine can get one, appointments are necessary for a smooth rollout.”

Individuals are asked to bring their Ontario health card. If you do not have a health card or your health card is expired, bring another form of government photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status card, or birth certificate.

The health unit has appointments available at COVID-19 vaccination clinics being held throughout the region. A list of dates and times is available on the health unit’s www.hkpr.on.ca. Residents are also encouraged to check with local pharmacies or their primary health care providers for more opportunities to get vaccinated.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the health unit reported 822 active cases within its jurisdiction including 35 in Haliburton County.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Prior COVID-19 infection offered protection against Delta variant, but vaccines still best shield against the virus, study says – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


People who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant, California and New York health officials reported on Wednesday.

Protection against Delta was highest, however, among people who were both vaccinated and had survived a previous COVID infection, and lowest among those who had never been infected or vaccinated, the study found.

Nevertheless, vaccination remains the safest strategy against COVID-19, according to the report published in U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The results do not apply to the Omicron variant of the virus, which now accounts for 99.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

“The evidence in this report does not change our vaccination recommendations,” Dr. Ben Silk of the CDC and one of the study’s authors told a media briefing.

“We know that vaccination is still the safest way to protect yourself against COVID-19,” he said.

For the study, health officials in California and New York gathered data from May through November, which included the period when the Delta variant was dominant.

It showed that people who survived a previous infection had lower rates of COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated alone.

That represented a change from the period when the Alpha variant was dominant, Silk told the briefing.

“Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” he said.

In the summer and fall of 2021, however, when Delta became the predominant circulating iteration of the virus in the United States, “surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against the subsequent infection than vaccination,” he said.

But acquiring immunity through natural infection carries significant risks. According to the study, by November 30, 2021, roughly 130,781 residents of California and New York had died from COVID-19.

The analysis did not include information on the severity of initial infection, nor does it account for the full range of illness caused by prior infection.

One important limitation to the study was that it ended before administration of vaccine booster doses was widespread.

Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health, said in an email that the study “clearly shows” that vaccines provide the safest protection against COVID-19 and they offer added protection for those with prior infections.

“Outside of this study, recent data on the highly contagious Omicron variant shows that getting a booster provides significant additional protection against infection, hospitalization and death,” Pan said.

Silk said the CDC is studying the impact of vaccination, boosters and prior infection during the Omicron surge and expects to issue further reports when that data becomes available.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending