RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s officially fall, which means it’s also flu season. The country has seen record-low cases of the flu since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but health experts in Central Virginia are saying this year could be different.
“We have been seeing a little bit more flu activity this summer than in typical summer months,” said Catherine Long, the Public Information Officer for Richmond and Henrico Health Districts.
Health experts attribute the minimized spread of the flu since 2020 to public health practices like social distancing and wearing masks. However, as more Virginians receive their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, social-distancing practices are becoming less of a priority.
“It’s going to take two shots this winter season to keep us all safe from respiratory illnesses,” Long said.
Anyone over six months old is eligible for the flu shot, which they can receive at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine. Long said from a public health standpoint, it’s critical people remain proactive regarding both viruses.
“COVID and the flu can have some pretty similar symptoms. There can be some respiratory symptoms, some fatigue [and] fever,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 12,000 and 52,000 people die from the flu every year. Anyone can fall victim to the virus.
Although everyone is likely to respond differently to contracting the flu, Long said Virginians should look out for one another. “One of the best things you can do to protect older adults in our communities, babies, or people who are immunocompromised, is get the flu shot,” she said.
More information about this upcoming flu season, as well as how to get a shot can be found on the website of the Virginia Department of Health.