The COVID-19 pandemic has taken 250,000 lives to date in the United States, so this week’s news that Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA candidate vaccine has passed its safety checks, with new data suggesting that it is 95% effective, is very welcome.
A phase 3 study of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine indicates a similar level of effectiveness, and clinical trials of vaccines designed in Russia and China are ongoing .
However, we already have a safe and effective vaccine against another highly contagious respiratory disease that we should not overlook: the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that the flu claimed the lives of 22,000 people in the U.S. last winter. It also sent 400,000 people to hospitals at a time when COVID-19 cases were beginning to mount.
A “twindemic” scenario, in which a spike in COVID-19 cases coincides with an outbreak of influenza, could overwhelm already overstretched hospitals and first responders. According to recent research, the flu vaccine is the single most important way to protect people’s health this fall and winter.
That said, we know that there have always been questions and concerns about the flu vaccine. That’s why we launched our new flu hub, with the latest evidence about vaccines and prevention to help you unpack the science behind the shot. You’ll even discover why Medical News Today’s own Research Editor decided to take the flu seriously and get a shot this year.