What Clinicians Need to Know About the Influenza Season

November 9, 2020
Jonathan Alicea

ContagionLive releases their latest e-book on this year's flu season, which includes expert-led opinions and interviews.

The start of the fall season and upcoming winter months in the northern hemisphere means that the influenza (flu) season is well underway. However, the ongoing coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic adds an additional threat to the health and wellbeing of individuals.

ContagionLive, sister publication of HCPLive®, has recently launched its e-book, “Covid-19 and the Flu: What Clinicians Need to Know,” which offers insight and expert-led opinions surrounding the current flu season.

Conversation around this dual threat has been particularly robust, especially among the infectious disease community. The e-book distills these major key points and findings so that the clinician and healthcare provider can be better equipped to face the uncertain months ahead.

The Increased Importance of the Flu Vaccination

It becomes all the more essential to encourage patients to receive their flu vaccination this year. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the United States is facing its first winter with this new coronavirus. Despite all the uncertainties about what this means for patients’ physical and mental wellbeing, clinicians should make every effort to ensure the risk reduction of viral transmissions.

Thus, easier access to vaccinations, public health resources, and medical care become all the more imperative as the probability of contracting respiratory illnesses rises during these months.

Combating Vaccine Hesitancy and Misinformation

Of course, healthcare providers might experience resistance from patients who remain skeptical of vaccinations.

A reason behind this hesitation can largely be attributed to misinformed beliefs and convictions on the part of the patients. Thus, it is necessary that the provider approaches this challenge with patience, conversation, and with facts.

“You can’t change their view by just telling them, ‘You need to change your view. I don’t agree with you,” said Robert Redfield, MD, director of the US Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.

“No, it’s going to take time and dialogue to move individuals from what I call ‘vaccine hesitancy,’ [which derives] from either fear or misinformation, to bring them into what I’m trying to coin ‘vaccine with confidence,” he continued.

Southern Hemisphere Flu Estimates Offer Potential Hope

Countries in the southern hemisphere that have already experienced their winter months have reported a milder flu season.

“The current flu season is the mildest we have had since records have been kept (around 20 years),” noted Kim Sampson, CEO of Australia’s Immunisation Coalition, in an email to Contagion®.

“This has been due to the rapid action taken to protect the community from COVID-19 (implementing social distancing rules, working from home, good hand hygiene and wearing of masks). We also had a record number of people vaccinated against influenza. If the United States is able to get the same kind of community response, a mild flu season should follow,” she said.

Nonetheless, the northern countries, including the United States, should still remain vigilant against potential challenges and hiccups that may lead to a vastly different trajectory.

The Possibility of COVID-19 and Flu Coinfection

Healthcare providers must be aware of the risks of and treatment strategies for con-infection with COVID-19 and the Flu. Certain therapies used to treatment one infection may exacerbate the other—therefore, approaches to these patients should be assessed on the basis of individual risk and benefits.

However, there is currently limited data that offers a comprehensive understanding of the impact of co-infection. And yet, it is still reasonable to assume that these patients face a higher risk for disease progression, severe disease, as well as longer time to recover.

To read interviews with experts, insights into influenza therapies, how one large US health system is preparing for the season, and more, go here to download the free e-book.