WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We’ve seen a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks but it’s not the only virus that’s concerning.
The flu is on the minds of medical experts who are urging everyone to take precautions.
This week is national influenza vaccination week. The timing is critical. Experts are urging all of us to not delay and get the flu vaccine.
“Keep myself safe. Keep my family safe,” said Melanie Jurbala, Compounding Technician of Harrold’s Pharmacy.
But doctors at Guthrie fear not enough people are approaching flu season quite the same way.
“We’ve given out about a third fewer flu vaccines this year than in previous years so that was a surprise to us. And what that says to us we’re concerned that people aren’t looking to get vaccinated for the flu this year,” explained Dr. Michael Scalzone from Guthrie.
High-risk groups including infants and the elderly are susceptible to serious illness from an acute respiratory infection.
“It spreads with close contact so the best way of prevention to not get the flu is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Sheela Prabhu from Guthrie.
If you think children can easily avoid the flu without the vaccine, doctors say think again. Respiratory viruses like RSV have thrived this year which might serve as an early warning sign.
“We didn’t see much of that last year but it really came back with a vengeance this year and started very early. So, we had a very difficult RSV season. We’re still experiencing that,” stated Dr. Philip Heavner from Guthrie.
Many people may say they never get the flu and at worst only get colds, and even if they get the fu they’ll just take antiviral medication. But experts say that way of thinking is flawed.
“So anything that’s available over the counter for either is just to treat the symptoms.” Hiller says, “And it’s not going to prevent anything.” Lefkowitz says “Correct. That’s the key to the flu shot. The flu shot prevents the flu. The antivirals treat the flu once you get it,” explained Bruce Lefkowitz, owner/Pharmacist at Harrold’s Pharmacy.
Another big concern? Contracting the flu could require hospitalization at facilities already bursting at the seams. It’s why this pharmacy worker wishes others would follow her lead and get the flu vaccine.
“I think there could be more people to get it to keep from being hospitalized and being treated for flu,” said Jurbala.
While the flu vaccine is typically recommended in October, experts say it’s not too late.
Since it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, getting it now will have you protected from the flu for Christmas.