NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As more people ditch the masks and return to pre-pandemic activities, common colds and coughs may return with a vengeance.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he is already hearing reports of more colds, coughs, and sore throats, after a year where common viruses were practically non-existent.
"Last year, because of all our masking and social distancing and kids not being in school, we had the lowest flu season in recorded history," said Dr. Schaffner.
Dr. Schaffner said to protect himself and others, he plans to keep wearing his mask while on an airplane, and believes some people may choose to wear one during the traditional cold and flu season, or if they aren't feeling well.
"They will say, you know, wearing a mask isn’t as dorky in the U.S. as it used to be, so I’ll put the mask on," said Dr. Schaffner.
Dr. Schaffner said data from the last year proves that masks help reduce the transmission of all viruses. If people aren't going to wear masks as often as last year, he recommended people stay away from individuals who are sick, and wash their hands frequently. He also recommended people get a flu shot in the Fall.
While many are anxious to put the pandemic behind them, Dr. Schaffner said people should not forget some of the lessons we learned about staying healthy over the last year.
"We separated ourselves, we did hand hygiene, wore masks, and remarkably, it really worked," said Dr. Schaffner. "We’ll obviously not be as extreme going forward, but every little bit of protection helps."