Health experts worry about potentially severe flu season


FILE – Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adjusts her face mask during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this Thursday, March 18, 2021, file photo. Walensky says new mask-wearing guidance, coupled with higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19, could halt the current escalation of infections in “a couple of weeks.” The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told “CBS This Morning” she hopes more stringent mask-wearing guidelines and other measures won’t be necessary as the country heads into the fall. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The last year saw lower than average flu cases. Thanks to masking, social distancing, and other COVID-19 related measures, the flu season was almost nonexistent.

The 2020-2021 flu season saw the fewest number of cases since the CDC began to track data with 1,899 cases. With a major relaxation in restrictions, that could change this year. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that reduced population-level immunity to the seasonal flu could put the country “at risk for a potentially severe flu season this year.”

The CDC reported, each year the flu can claim between 12,000 and 52,000 lives and result in 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations. Walensky called it “another toll we need to work hard to avoid”.

“An increase in flu infections and flu severity could put additional burden on our healthcare system and increase stress on our nation’s healthcare workers,” Walensky said.

It’s why the CDC and North Carolina are now pushing for flu vaccines in addition to COVID-19 vaccines. The flu shot is recommended for anyone six months or older. It can be taken at the same time as a COVID-19 shot.

Symptoms may be similar so Walensky recommended testing for both the flu and COVID-19 if you feeling unwell.

Flu Symptoms

  • Fever(often but not always) or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children

Coronavirus Symptoms

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

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