Health officials urge flu shots as need to reduce hospitalizations continues
FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — This flu season is expected to be worse than the unusually mild one we experienced last winter.
Fewer people got the flu last winter because of COVID-19 prevention measures like wearing masks, social distancing, and traveling less.
With many people back at work and school, this year will likely be different.
“Get the COVID vaccine, get a flu vaccine,” advised Sanford Health Fargo Medical Officer Dr. Doug Griffin.
That’s the request many health care practitioners have for people in our area to help reduce the need for hospitalizations.
“As we’re moving into a flu season, if individuals are choosing not to get vaccinated for either or both, the burden and necessity for health care intervention and services is just going to be that much higher,” Essentia Health Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Joseph Halvorson emphasized.
With the Delta variant still circulating and people returning to normal activities, getting vaccinated is especially important.
“People can get their COVID vaccine and their flu vaccine on the same visit,” Grand Forks Public Health Immunization Program Manager Haley Bruhn explained.
“Go ahead and get both of the jabs,” added Halvorson. “It’s better to just kind of get that immune system kind of cued up and teed up ready to go to provide protection and assistance. There’s nothing magical about waiting or needing to separate those two.”
Some are concerned misinformation will lead to fewer flu vaccinations.
“We’re, I think, a bit concerned that some of the anti-vaccine thoughts or vaccine hesitancy is going to carry over to the flu vaccine as well, which is very unfortunate,” Griffin said.
With local hospitals already reaching critical capacity levels, flu admissions would only stretch them thinner. “When we’re in, kind of, this fragile state right now with our current healthcare system, I think anything that we can do to protect that is very important,” Bruhn said.
Besides getting vaccinated, staying home when sick and practicing good hygiene are some of the best ways to stay healthy.