Flu expected to make comeback this season as pandemic precautions end – WIBW

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Brace yourself: flu is expected to make a comeback this season.

All the precautions we took to keep COVID at bay also stopped the spread of the flu. Now, as we remove the masks, ditch the distance and restart the socializing , we also create new openings for influenza.

“It’s spread by respiratory droplets. It’s spread by contact and going out and having fun with other people. We’ve limited that significantly over the last couple of years. We actually saw significant decreases in flu the last two years with preventative measures that we’ve taken,” said Dr. Ryan Vonderhorst, who practices family medicine at Cotton O’Neil in Manhattan.

Dr. Vondorhorst agrees with other U.S. health officials who expect a busy flu season. In part, they’re looking to Australia, which saw it’s worst flu season in five years, with cases starting earlier than usual, too.

Dr. Vonderhorst says that makes getting your annual flu shot more important this fall.

“It’s the classic phrase – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he said. “The flu shot ramps up your immune system. It exposes it to what it expects the upcoming flu will be. Your body is just given little bits of broken up pieces of flu. It recognizes it. It says this is bad, let’s be on the lookout for it, and (it) builds antibodies. That way, when you get the actual flu virus in your system, then your body can much more rapidly develop a better immune response to it. It can fight it off better.”

Beyond the shot, Dr. Vonderhorst says continue those common sense measures which were long recommended, but gained focus during the COVID pandemic: wash your hands, keeps distance from crowds, stay home if you’re sick, and wear a mask if you must go out when you have symptoms.

Dr. Vonderhorst says it’s a good idea to get the new COVID bivalent vaccine booster, too.

“If you get flu and also get diagnosed with COVID at same time, it’s gonna be twice the hit or more on your immune system,” he said.

The influenza vaccine is recommended for most everyone six months and older.

Stormont Vail has its drive-thru flu shot clinics set for the season. These clinics are for Cotton O’Neil and Stormont Vail patients only. Here is the schedule:

Adults age 19+

Topeka

9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 29, Oct. 6 & 13

Stormont Vail Surgery parking garage, SW 10/Garfield

Manhattan

8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Oct. 8th

1133 College Ave. Bldg E

Pediatrics age 7 months+

1:30 to 6 p.m.

Cotton O’Neil Pediatrics, 4100 SW 15th

Additional flu shot opportunities

Primary care clinics, Heart Center, Cancer Center: by request during previously scheduled visits

Stormont Vail Retail Pharmacy (open to all community members, age 6 years+):

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. M-F, or call 785-235-8796 for appointment

2252 SW 10th Ave. Suite A

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