Social distancing and masking can lessen flu season’s effects, doctor says

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 2:50 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - With COVID-19 continuing to affect people around the world, some doctors are starting to think about flu season and what is expected in the winter.

Dr. Wenger said things like masking, social distancing and good hygiene can help mitigate the...
Dr. Wenger said things like masking, social distancing and good hygiene can help mitigate the flu's effects on the Valley.(WHSV)

“Last year, the flu presence in the community was very light, in fact, across the nation it was very light, and that was largely because of the masking, social distancing, restricted travel, businesses and schools going virtual,” said Dr. John Wenger, Director of Medical Operations with Sentara RMH.

Wenger said it’s hard to know what flu season will be like since community health standards, like masking and social distancing, change.

“I think we may see a bit more influenza just because of people being a little less isolated,” he said.

Wenger said, as always, flu shots will be crucial to staying healthy. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, flu shots aren’t 100% effective, but lessen the chances of getting sick or having a serious case.

Because the shot’s effectiveness wears off over time, you should push the shot off until the fall, even though it’s available now.

“I think, especially with our older folks, perhaps getting it more like the latter part of September, early October may be beneficial in terms of it lasting a little longer,” Wenger said.

Many people will be ready for their COVID-19 booster shots around flu season, and Wenger said it’s safe to get both at once, and you should do what’s convenient.

“The CDC formally recommends that getting the flu shot and the COVID vaccine can be given simultaneously,” he said.

Wenger said, previously, the CDC said not to get any other vaccines around the same time as the COVID-19 shot. Now, they have more research and said it’s safe. However, he said everyone should do what they think is best.

“If someone did have a bit of a reaction from the COVID vaccine, such as feeling ill for a few hours or a day or so, there certainly would be no harm in separating them by a week or two just to mitigate that,” Wenger said.

Wenger said good hygiene, masking, socially distancing and getting vaccinated will be factors in this flu season.

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