Influenza remains a common and at times potential fatal disease which we here in the Mid-Atlantic States see every year from late fall to early spring. This respiratory disease is caused by a virus that is highly contagious and we just call it the “flu”. A large portion of people who get Influenza get their exposure in the home from a family member. The seriousness of an Influenza infection can be significantly reduced by getting an annual vaccination which is widely available. This vaccination has been found to be highly effective and safe.
There is an interesting observation noted about the usual household transmission of the flu. During the Covid 19 pandemic (2021-2022) 50% of the household contacts with Influenza were infected compared to 20% during the seasons before. The question is why?
Several reasons have been offered for this finding. One is that general immunity was lacking for the years prior to the pandemic; second, reductions in seasonal vaccinations occurred during the pandemic and, lastly, a poor vaccine match to the virus strains present that year.
I believe that during the pandemic we were staying at home more and in closer contact with our household partners. I do not know what the overall data shows about the number of cases of flu documented during the pandemic. Locally we had fewer cases in the hospital and almost no calls to the office from patients who may have had the flu. We ran out of flu vaccine for the elderly.