rise in H3N2 cases is probably most related to the relaxation of COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as masking and social distancing,” she wrote.
Another cause may be viral competition, a term used to describe respiratory viruses competing for people to infect.
The concept “has been theorized for many years, and intuitively makes sense where adults are concerned, since they are much less likely to be coinfected and usually are only infected with one virus at the time,” Branche wrote. “So it’s one possible explanation.”
Should you get a vaccine this late in the season?
Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against influenza. The CDC recommends everyone aged 6 months and older get a shot “as long as flu activity continues.”
The influenza vaccine is known to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from the flu.
“Even if it’s less effective than normal, it still has the ability to provide some protection perhaps that might lessen the symptoms and-or the length of the flu,” Lori Tremmel Freeman, The National Association of County and City Health Officials chief executive officer says. “So I wouldn’t necessarily give up on the flu shot, because it can still be helpful in warding off more severe disease.”
“Americans should always be encouraged to get vaccinated against influenza. Influenza has always been a threat to the health of vulnerable members of our communities and that remains true, even during the pandemic,” Branche wrote in her email.
“Usually I don’t strongly encourage my patients to get an influenza vaccine this late in the season, but with rising cases and the uncertainty of how things will unfold over the next few months, it’s still worth getting vaccinated if you haven’t done so as yet for the 2021-2022 season.”