Wearing Masks, Social Distancing Every Winter Will Dramatically Reduce Flu Cases, Top Doctor Says

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Wearing masks and social distancing will dramatically reduce flu cases in the future, a top doctor said on CNN Wednesday.

Between 150 and 200 children typically die from influenza annually, but only one has died so far this year, Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s vaccine education center, said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“If we mask and social distance every winter, we will see a dramatic reduction in flu, which usually causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. I wonder whether that will be the lesson from this,” Offit said.

The doctor also said a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee he sits on is meeting Friday to discuss flu variants for future vaccines in 2022.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said cases of influenza this season nearly disappeared in the U.S. Offices and hospitals have reported the smallest amount of influenza cases in decades.

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In order to develop a vaccine to protect against new flu variants, Offit’s FDA committee studies strains “circulating in places like Australia and South America, which sort of predicts strains that are likely to come into our country,” he said. But, there has been “so little flu” in those areas that it may be difficult to develop a vaccine for the next flu season.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the White House that the U.S. is on target for ensuring all adults can access a COVID-19 vaccine by end of May 2021.

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