‘Immunity debt’: Research suggests this could be a bad flu season

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We’ve heard it time and time again the past several months.”The more people that are vaccinated, the better protected all of us are,” said Dr. Josh Schaffzin, director of infection prevention and control at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.But Schaffzin isn’t talking about the COVID-19 vaccine. He’s talking about the flu.While we can’t predict what will happen, experts say this could be a bad flu season.Researchers say there was a lack of flu last year due to social distancing, mask-wearing, school closures and decreased travel.And now, we are what Schaffzin called “immunity debt,” meaning we lack immunity to the flu virus due to lack of exposure — especially in young kids.Schaffzin says it’s what doctors believe happened with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). There was no RSV season last year and now they’re seeing a spike in children in the last couple months.”We have a large enough population who don’t have natural immunity or any immunity to a given disease and so now you see more of the disease because you get a few cases and then the disease is able to establish,” Schaffzin said.Now the best way to get out of this immunity debt and avoid severe disease is by building up your immunity to the influenza virus, health officials said. And doctors say the best way to do that is by heading down to your local pharmacy and getting your flu shot.Schaffzin says once we start relaxing measures, even for folks who are vaccinated against COVID-19, there’s going to be vulnerability to other pathogens.”We can affect the future. And I think the best we can do is prepare for a severe season. Do everything we can to prevent and hopefully experience a situation where we have hardly a season at all that’s a good situation to be in,” Schaffzin said.Schaffzin says the best time to get a flu shot is when they’re available.

We’ve heard it time and time again the past several months.

“The more people that are vaccinated, the better protected all of us are,” said Dr. Josh Schaffzin, director of infection prevention and control at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

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But Schaffzin isn’t talking about the COVID-19 vaccine. He’s talking about the flu.

While we can’t predict what will happen, experts say this could be a bad flu season.

Researchers say there was a lack of flu last year due to social distancing, mask-wearing, school closures and decreased travel.

And now, we are what Schaffzin called “immunity debt,” meaning we lack immunity to the flu virus due to lack of exposure — especially in young kids.

Schaffzin says it’s what doctors believe happened with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). There was no RSV season last year and now they’re seeing a spike in children in the last couple months.

“We have a large enough population who don’t have natural immunity or any immunity to a given disease and so now you see more of the disease because you get a few cases and then the disease is able to establish,” Schaffzin said.

Now the best way to get out of this immunity debt and avoid severe disease is by building up your immunity to the influenza virus, health officials said. And doctors say the best way to do that is by heading down to your local pharmacy and getting your flu shot.

Schaffzin says once we start relaxing measures, even for folks who are vaccinated against COVID-19, there’s going to be vulnerability to other pathogens.

“We can affect the future. And I think the best we can do is prepare for a severe season. Do everything we can to prevent and hopefully experience a situation where we have hardly a season at all that’s a good situation to be in,” Schaffzin said.

Schaffzin says the best time to get a flu shot is when they’re available.

Contributed by local news sources

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