FALL FLU FORECAST. A sign advertising flu and COVID-19 shots, left
photo, is viewed outside a Walmart Supercenter in Ocoee, Florida, on
August 10, 2022. Drawing on global trends, Oregon Health & Science
University (OHSU) is forecasting potential for a vigorous return of
influenza after a two-year dip. Influenza may outpace COVID-19
infections in driving hospitalizations in Oregon during the fall and
winter, according to a recent OHSU statewide biweekly forecast. (Phelan
M. Ebenhack via AP)
Pictured are vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
(Photo/Oregon Health & Science University)
From The Asian Reporter, V32, #10 (October 3, 2022), page 15.
New statewide COVID-19 forecast in Oregon raises
concern about flu
Drawing on global trends, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
is forecasting potential for a vigorous return of influenza after a
two-year dip. Influenza may outpace COVID-19 infections in driving
hospitalizations in Oregon during the fall and winter, according to a
recent OHSU statewide biweekly forecast.
The forecast continues to show a steady decline in the number of
hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in Oregon. A total of 253 people
were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of September 14, with the OHSU
forecast projecting the number continuing to decline through the end of
October, until picking up again in November as immunity wanes and people
increasingly gather indoors.
The recent forecast raises a more pressing concern about influenza ó
a virus that has been all but absent for the past two-and-a-half years.
Peter Graven, Ph.D., director of the OHSU Office of Advanced
Analytics, said that receiving a flu vaccine is "extremely important
this year, certainly more than it has been in the last two years when we
had virtually no flu that was circulating. The flu is probably going to
be at least as important this year as COVID."
Graven cited relatively high rates of influenza starting early in
some areas of the Southern Hemisphere, where influenza typically
circulates in their winter months, from April to October.
The publicís willingness to wear masks, limit indoor gatherings, and
take other public health measures limited the spread of COVID-19 over
the past two-and-a-half years, said Dawn Nolt, M.D., M.P.H., professor
of pediatrics (infectious diseases) in the OHSU School of Medicine.
All of those public health measures also minimized the circulation of
Nolt noted that the lack of exposure to influenza over the past two
years also means that peopleís immune systems lack practice in fighting
off the influenza virus. This, in turn, portends a potentially vigorous
flu season when the virus circulates this fall and winter.
"In normal years, lots of people are exposed to the flu, which
provides a natural boost to their immune response," Nolt said. "We
havenít seen much flu at all in the past three years. That makes it
really important to get yourself vaccinated against flu this season."
Flu vaccines are widely available at pharmacies and through
healthcare systems across the region.
In addition to the availability of the flu vaccine, the new bivalent
booster vaccine against COVID-19 has arrived in Oregon and is widely
available. The bivalent booster targets the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron
variants, along with the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that
The current number of COVID-19 cases is far below the 1,178 people
hospitalized with COVID-19 during the peak of the delta variant wave, as
of September 1, 2021 last year.
Nolt encourages people to get both the COVID-19 booster and annual
flu shot as soon as they are eligible.
To learn more, visit <www.ohsu.edu/health/coronavirus-resources#section-1349461>.
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