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No flu, no colds

16 June 2021

It's official, flu has all but vanished from Australasia.

Not unsurprisingly, the quarantines, lockdowns and general improvements in reducing the risks from virus contagion have effectively eliminated flu cases from the landscape in both Australia and New Zealand.

I haven't had a cold for nearly two years now and as someone who suffers more than most due to my wimpiness and predisposition to sinus infections I think this is fantastic.

However, is there a down-side to this situation?

As an "over-65-year-old" I've had my seasonal flu vaccination even though many people said "don't bother, you won't need it".

On the face of it you could be forgiven for believing that there's absolutely point in being vaccinated against something that is no longer a risk -- namely the influenza virus. No vaccine is without risks (albeit very small) and it seems pointless to get an unnecessary jab, doesn't it?

Well apparently it's still a good idea to get the flu jab if you qualify.

The immune system is like a muscle, or so I'm told. "Use it or lose it" is the prevailing wisdom. By getting the flu vaccination you are challenging your immune system in a way that keeps it primed for action and better able to respond when influenza and other rhinoviruses begin re-appearing in the community.

As we age our immune systems begin to decline anyway so just like our biceps and quads, we need to keep it exercised.

I wonder how many people will find that their next cold or bout of flu is much worse than before. Could it be that by spending a couple of years without challenge from such sources our bodies are less prepared to ward off new infections?

I'm not a doctor or viroligist so I have no bleeding idea but commonsense would suggest that after being stood-down for a couple of years our immune system may be less capable of defnnding against new attackers.

That's the main reason I got my flu jab this year... any exercise has to be good exercise.

How do readers feel about this?

If you're over 65 did you get your free flu jab?

Are you eying the prospect of cold and flu viruses re-establishing themselves in the community with some fear?

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