September 07, 2022 12:56
The flu season is expected to start early this year while coronavirus infections continue. Some epidemiologists warn that the protracted COVID-19 pandemic has weakened the immunity against the seasonal flu, making people more vulnerable this winter.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday, 4.3 out of every 1,000 outpatients in hospitals in the fourth week of August had flu symptoms, a steady increase for the third straight week and the highest number in five years for the time of year.
Now that masks are coming down and lockdowns have been eased, flu is likely to rise again next month. Kim Woo-joo at Korea University Guro Hospital said, "Flu cases were down around the world over the last two years, but that means immunity has also decreased, and flu shots last for about six months. We could see a growing resurgence of flu infections this winter along with COVID cases."
Flu, like COVID, spreads through respiratory droplets. Cho Sun-young at Samsung Medical Center said, "Symptoms vary, which makes it very difficult for non-professionals to distinguish between the flu and COVID." Jung Ji-won at Asan Medical Center said, "The best way to prevent flu is to get the vaccine every year."
According to the KDCA, free flu vaccination for children, pregnant women and senior citizens starts on Sep. 21. The World Health Organization recommends flu vaccination for pregnant women since complications such as pneumonia can lead to premature birth or stillbirth. The two vaccines are safe together.
Expecting mothers at any stage of pregnancy can get their free flu jabs from Oct. 5 to April 30. Flu shots for the elderly are available in October.
Meanwhile, the daily tally of new COVID infections stood at 85,540 with 521 severe cases as of Wednesday morning.
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