One of the mildest flu seasons on record reported in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH — The flu season ended this week in Pennsylvania and it made history: it was the mildest season with the lowest number of cases on record.

This season also recorded the highest number of people reporting they got a flu shot -- a six-fold increase.

“The low flu activity in part is a testament to effective COVID-19 mitigation efforts that also prevent the flu,” said Ray Barishansky, the state’s deputy secretary of health preparedness and community protection.

But Dr. Amesh Adalja said this past weekend he treated a patient who had to be hospitalized for a respiratory virus other than COVID-19.

That was the first time he’s encountered a case like that in more than a year.

“Those people who went without having a cold or the flu for a year or so are probably going to start to get colds and flus as they start to socially interact,” Adalja said.

Even though Pennsylvania plans to lift all of its mitigation orders on Memorial Day, Adalja thinks there’s value in sticking to some of those habits.

“I think there are going to be people who like the fact that they didn’t have any common colds over the last year and maybe they’ll be people who will be much better at their personal hygiene in terms of hand washing and there might also be people who will wear masks when they’re in crowded, congregated places,” he said.

In terms of vaccinations, the vaccine for the next flu season is still being developed, and researchers will monitor trends across the world this summer.

Adalja doesn’t expect the need for a Covid-19 booster shot in the near future.

“All the data shows that this vaccine is durable and likely provides immunity for over a year,” he said.

So if you already got a COVID-19 vaccine, Adalja says now is the time to go get other those important vaccinations – such as shingles and pneumonia.

“We know that vaccinations for routine things fell during the height of the lockdowns, during the height of the pandemic and we need to catch up because those infectious diseases didn’t take a break. They will be back,” Adalja said.