The viruses among us

Mention vaccines these days, and chances are the talk will be about when some protection against COVID-19 can be expected.

Another potential killer is about to take the stage, however.

Regular influenza — actually multiple viruses that vary in threat level, depending on the year — strikes annually.

Fortunately, vaccines against it are available already.

Influenza kills thousands of Americans every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu claimed as many as 62,000 lives in this country during the 2019-20 season.

That said, COVID-19 is more deadly … so don’t forget that.

It is important to note that the CDC stopped reporting flu fatalities on April 4.

Why? We don’t know.

The actual toll may have been higher than we know.

One thing we do understand is this: COVID-19 seems to target older people with pre-existing, health-care conditions.

The overwhelming majority of what we call coronavirus deaths have been in that age group

Children and other younger people have been numbered under the COVID-19 victims, but the risk to them seems lower.

Annual influenza outbreaks can be very dangerous to the young and to the old.

Again, however, protection is available.

Infectious disease experts annually work to identify flu strains likely to strike.

Vaccines against them are prepared in large quantities.

They are available to anyone who wants to be vaccinated.

Pharmacies, doctors’ offices, clinics and health departments everywhere have it available, although we are hearing there is more demand and supply is not what it should be.

If you’re 65 or over and want the double dose flu shot, you may be put on a waiting list in our particular region, we’re told.

Most insurance plans cover the cost.

Those without coverage often can obtain the vaccine at low or no cost, often through health departments.

The best recomendation is: Get it.

Plainly and simply, the flu season will be upon us soon.

It will be a threat to you — and your loved ones, perhaps including children.

We have to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Protection against “regular” flu is available now.

Be smart.

Be safe.

Get vaccinated.


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