Dr Leslie Kantor: Mild Flu Seasons Make Future Vaccine Matching Tricky

When a flu season is mild, it can make developing a vaccine for the following season a bit more difficult as it can be hard to find the right match, but on the other hand, the US health system could benefit from less stress this winter given the unrelenting demands posed by COVID-19, says Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH, chair and professor of the Department of Urban-Global Public Health, Rutgers School of Public Health.

When a flu season is mild, it can make developing a vaccine for the following season a bit more difficult as it can be hard to find the right match, but on the other hand, the US health system could benefit from less stress this winter given the unrelenting demands posed by COVID-19, says Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH, chair and professor of the Department of Urban-Global Public Health, Rutgers School of Public Health.

Transcript

The 2020-2021 flu season was mild—why might that be a concern if we have another mild flu season this year?

The one concern, when there's not a very virulent flu season, is that it can sometimes make it harder to guess what's coming next, and therefore it's harder to make a vaccine that's a good match for circulating virus. Now, there's some very good news, which is that the mRNA technology that's being used in COVID vaccines may be usable for better flu vaccines that can be produced more quickly in the future. But honestly, a mild flu season would be terrific. I think that everybody could use a break both individually, and, of course, our health care system does not need to be tested again this winter.

Since the health care system is still stressed, is there anything else that you want to add?

It's very important for people to know they can actually get their vaccination for COVID and for the flu at the same time—they don't need to wait 14 days in between. So if it's feeling like a lot to do, the good news is that those things can be done at the same time. And it's great for providers to remind their patients of that.