In this June 10, 2020, file photo, Olivia Chan’s father helps her with a new mask she received during a graduation ceremony for her Pre-K class in front of Bradford School in Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Winter is ending in the Southern Hemisphere and country after country, from South Africa to Australia to Argentina, had a surprise – their steps against COVID-19 also apparently blocked the flu.
But there is no guarantee the Northern Hemisphere will avoid the twin epidemics as its own flu season looms while the coronavirus still rages.
That’s why US health officials are pushing Americans to get vaccinated against the flu in record numbers this fall, so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with a dual “twin-demic.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “We still have less than 50% of adults embracing the flu vaccine. My goal this year is to see if we can get that up to at least 65%. It’s going to be so important with flu and COVID coming at the same time that we really try to take flu off the table as much as possible and embracing a flu vaccine is one of the most important things we can do.”
The CDC is urging record flu vaccinations, preferably by October.
It’s Back to School Across Europe
Meanwhile, Europe is going back to school, despite some upticks of coronavirus.
Authorities in France, Britain, Spain and elsewhere say it’s essential to get kids back in school to learn again. They are imposing mask rules, hiring extra teachers, and building new desks.
European leaders from the political left, right, and center are sending an unusually consistent message, that even in a pandemic, children are better off in class. Schools in different countries will implement a variety of additional safety measures like one-way hallways, hand-washing stations, and limits on cafeteria gatherings.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called reopening schools a “moral duty.” He’s even threatening to fine parents who keep their kids at home.
In Nordic countries like Sweden, there’s been a general consensus that more harm is being inflicted on kids by keeping them home than the risk of sending them to school.
Leaders across Europe aim to close the learning gaps that deepened during the lockdown and hope to get parents back to work.