Health Leaders, With An Eye On Potential Bad Flu Season, Urges Flu Vaccination

Saturday, October 23rd 2021, 2:23 pm


As COVID-19 cases have been declining, another virus health officials are keeping their eye on is the flu.

Despite a mild season last year, health officials aren't sure if we're out of the woods yet for another mild one this year.

Last year, health officials chalked up the mild flu season to mitigation strategies that were in place, like masking and social distancing, but this year with those efforts not opening nearly as much, some have stated that we could see a rise in the flu.

"We would certainly anticipate that some of these more typical infections we deal with," said Dr. David Kendrick, the CEO of MyHealth Access Network. "Especially respiratory, are going to be on the rise this year."

Dr. David Kendrick has been compiling data from health systems in the state on COVID-19 and the flu. He said his data has shown the flu season in 2019, before COVID-19, at the height had a 30% positivity rate.

"That dropped off and all through 2020 our highest peak was at a little over 6%," said Dr. Kendrick.

But right now, that positivity has been trending upwards as more people are being infected.

"Sort of mirroring the rise that we saw in 2020," said Dr. Kendrick. "The question is will it stop at this peak and come down in November and December or will it continue upward."

That's why state health officials are urging people to get their flu shot, which can now be given at the same time as the covid vaccine.

"That has been a change that has happened in the last couple of months.," said Buffy Heater, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner at OSDH. "So, it is one visit, two sticks, and someone is fully covered for this winter season."

Officials with the state health department say about 50,000 flu doses have been given so far this season. Since shipments arrived in September, they said that is on par with amounts typically given at this time for prior years.