LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports, today, nearly 3,000 people are hospitalized statewide with COVID-19. Health experts say it’s essential we get a flu shot to help prevent hospital beds from filling up even further.
The call for flu shots comes just one year after a historically low flu season case count. But health experts say to expect that again is highly unlikely. That’s why a new campaign is now underway emphasizing why we should not take the flu lightly.
This public service announcement is part of a campaign called “No Time For Flu” a collaboration of the CDC, AMA, and Ad Council.
“We know that you can reduce the chances of even having to go to a doctor for flu by 40 to 60 percent if you get a flu shot,” said Associate Director of CDC Office of Minority Health & Health Equity Leandris Liburd.
This flu season is like no other in Pennsylvania. It comes after one that was practically nonexistent. Less than 3,700 flu cases were reported last year in the Commonwealth. Compare that to more than 131,000 flu infections the previous season. Why the dramatic drop? Experts say all those COVID mitigation efforts.
“So we were at home. We were social distancing. Our children were not in school, right. We were masked up. So, those things reduce the risk of the spread of the flu at the same time,” said Willie Underwood III, MD, MSc, MPH who is on the AMA Board of Trustees.
Fast forward with COVID mitigation methods now relaxed, Dr. Underwood describes a dangerous scenario not only for ourselves, our families, and our communities but also hospitals currently already tending to thousands of COVID patients.
“We’re having cases in Pennsylvania and you have people hospitalized. You have people in the system who are sick, right. And then you add the flu on top of that, that that could not only break the hospital system, that can actually break the economy,” said Underwood.
Health experts say flu vaccination is especially urgent for Black and Hispanic communities.
“Historically, these communities have been under-vaccinated but also more likely to end up with a severe illness associated with the flu,” said Liburd.
“All of this can be prevented by a shot. Man, think about it. Just a shot of vaccine that we know that is safe,” said Underwood.
The CDC says black children have the lowest vaccination rates with just less than 50% receiving a flu shot. Keep in mind, it takes about two weeks to get full flu vaccine protection. Doctors say now is the time to get the shot.
To learn about flu shots visit the Get My Flu Shot website.