July 16th, 2020

// St. Jude-WHO Influenza Expert Warns Utilizing “Life-Saving Flu Vaccine is Critical Now More than Ever”

St. Jude-WHO Influenza Expert Warns Utilizing “Life-Saving Flu Vaccine is Critical Now More than Ever” 

As CDC Boosts Flu Vaccines for Upcoming Season, Dr. Richard Webby Implores Americans to Utilize Critical Flu Vaccine as Soon as Available

MEMPHIS, TENN. – As infectious disease experts fear a respiratory illness season with a potential collision of influenza and COVID, Dr. Richard Webbya member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team, is imploring the public to take advantage of this year’s flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available.  

“With the potential for an unprecedented collision of COVID-19 and influenza during this year’s flu season, the life-saving flu vaccine is critical now more than ever,” said Dr. Richard Webby of St. Jude who is part of the select group of scientists that helps advise the World Health Organization on the makeup of each year’s flu vaccine. “There is a reduction in flu surveillance in some regions because a lot of the public health resources are being dedicated to fighting the COVID pandemic, but we can’t afford to be lax about the potential impact of the upcoming flu season.  

Dr. Webby continued, “Don’t wait for reports of a spike in the influenza virus before taking advantage of the flu vaccine, a critical public health tool.  Instead, the American people should prepare early and get the flu shot as soon as it is available this season.” “As many of the symptoms of flu and COVID are the same, a flu outbreak will very much complicate our efforts to contain the pandemic coronavirus”. 

Researchers are in the process of developing a new, dual test that would be able to simultaneously detect both the influenza and COVID-19 virus at the same time.  Dr. Webby, a part of the WHO team responsible for accessing the requirements for the flu vaccine each year supports that effort.  

“Given the strain on public health resources in the age of COVID, a dual test would allow for us to essentially test for flu and maintain flu surveillance, while at the same time checking for COVID.  In a time of strained resources, the development of a dual test would be a major public health benefit,” concluded Dr. Webby.

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