October is the ideal time for flu vaccines, and the United States is preparing for what experts predict is a high demand for injections as it tries to avoid a “double epidemic” along with Covid-19.
“There is enormous concern going into the fall and winter months and flu season that we will have this dreaded overlap” of influenza and coronavirus, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the US National Institutes of Health on Thursday. Fauci got a flu shot earlier this week.
A record number of doses of the flu vaccine is on the way, between 194 million and 198 million for the United States alone, an apparently excessive number considering that last year just under half of adults were vaccinated and generally there are doses left over.
However, there is no way of knowing how many people will seek vaccination this year, and sometimes some people find that pharmacies or clinics no longer carry vaccines.
Be patient, the flu vaccine is delivered gradually. Less than half have been distributed so far, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and drug companies said more are on the way.
“This year I think everyone is going to want to get vaccinated and maybe they want to do it earlier than usual,” Dr. Daniel Jernigan of the CDC told The Associated Press. “If you can’t get the vaccine now, don’t be frustrated,” but keep trying, he added.
The vaccine only protects against influenza, not against coronavirus. Although its effectiveness varies from year to year, people who get vaccinated against influenza do not develop severe symptoms, avoiding pneumonia, hospitalization and death, according to Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University and the National Foundation for Infectious diseases.
The CDC estimated that last year about 400,000 Americans were hospitalized from influenza and about 22,000 died from the disease.