Have the flu vaccinations as well

I recently received an email from my medical aid encouraging me to have the annual Flu vaccination. The email read as follows:

“Dear member: fight the flu this winter! We have pre-authorised the payment of a flu vaccine for HENRY T. Your health is your wealth. (The only proviso being that one should be inoculated 12 to 14 days before, or after, the COVID vaccination).
Momentum medical Scheme.”

For many the question which arises is… why on Earth should medical aids be concerned about flu vaccinations in the middle of the COVID vac campign? And according to researchers in Canada, the motivation behind the medical aid advice is quite simple:

Firstly, in Canada seasonal flu is also a serious illness – especially amongst seniors.
Their findings are similar to recent studies from the United States and France. The study was published Feb. 10 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“We can now say definitively that COVID-19 is much more severe than seasonal influenza,” said study author Dr. Amol Verma, a researcher in the School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. “Patients admitted to hospital in Ontario with COVID-19 had a 3.5 times greater risk of death, 1.5 times greater use of the ICU, and 1.5 times longer hospital stays than patients admitted with influenza,” he said in a journal news release. These patients were also more likely to be put on a ventilator.

Verma’s team compared flu and COVID-related hospitalizations between Nov. 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 at seven hospitals in Toronto and nearby Mississauga. Both have large populations and high COVID infection rates. During the study period, there were 783 hospitalizations for flu in 763 patients, and 1,027 hospitalizations for COVID in 972 patients. That represented nearly a quarter of all COVID hospitalizations in the entire province of Ontario during that time. About 1 in 5 COVID patients was younger than 50, and that age group accounted for nearly 1 in 4 intensive care admissions. While many people believe COVID-19 mainly affects older people, “it can also cause very serious illness in younger adults,” Verma said. He noted that adults under age 50 accounted for 20% of COVID hospitalizations in the first wave of the pandemic. Nearly 1 in 3 adults under 50 required intensive care and nearly 1 in 10 had to be readmitted to the hospital after they were discharged, according to the study. It is true, Verma added, that COVID hits older adults the hardest.

“We found that among adults over 75 years who were hospitalized with COVID-19, nearly 40% died in hospital,” he said.

Researchers said COVID might be much more dangerous than flu because people have lower levels of immunity to the new coronavirus than to seasonal flu. Past flu infections and vaccinations have helped people build immunity to the illness. “Hopefully, the severity of COVID-19 will decrease over time as people are vaccinated against the virus and more effective treatments are identified. There is, unfortunately, also the possibility that variants of the virus could be even more severe,” Verma said.

Secondly preventing flu infections will reduce the potential confusion caused between the two diseases which show similar symptoms.
In today’s COVID World, every time a person contracts flu, we are inclined to immediately jump to the erroneous conclusion that they have the COVID bug! And especially for the elderly, fighting both simultaneously will reduce the risk of two diseases, so…

“Especially if you are a senior, have your flu jab as well, but ensure that there is at least a 14-day gap between the two disparate vaccinations!”

Henry Spencer
SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, Feb. 10, 2021. HealthDay.