OUR VIEW: Where did the flu go? We might find out, if enough people don’t get influenza shots

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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“Where did the flu go?”

Surely, you’ve been in a conversation during the pandemic where that question has come up. Our yearly fall sickness — the one we’ve all feared for years until COVID started — seemingly went away last year as the pandemic raged in our communities.

We’ve written on this, ensuring we answered this question for the people in our community who have asked us about the flu over and over. The truth is — believe it or not — that wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding big crowds is a good way to stop the spread of the flu as well, and all of those mitigation efforts seemed to work in 2020.

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Thank goodness that they did.

It also appears that COVID may simply be more contagious than the flu, which also explains why it was the dominant sickness last year.

But it’s now been a year, and we’re again getting close to flu season again.

Experts fear a twindemic, where the ongoing (and seemingly never ending) COVID-19 pandemic merges with the flu to overload our already weary hospital systems.

It’s a terrifying thought.

And we know the last thing you want to hear is that you need another shot, especially when booster COVID-19 shots have dominated the news lately. But you really do.

The flu shot is safe and generally effective, though it depends year to year on how great it is. Regardless, like the COVID-19 shot, the flu shot typically keeps people out of the hospital and less sick, even in years where its effectiveness isn’t as high as we’d like.

We know you’re tired of rolling up your sleeve, but we urge you to consider a flu vaccine.

And if you haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccine yet, experts say it’s safe to get both at the same time. As Dr. Kenneth Gordon says, weeks ago was the best time to get the vaccine, but today is the next best time.

We hope in six months people are still asking the question, wondering where the flu went. If they are, it means flu vaccines did their job, and the flu season was mild.

But with COVID-19 safety measures going out the window, it seems to be wishful thinking that the flu will again leave us alone when cold weather hits.

Get the shot and be prepared. We’re guessing you’ll be glad you did.