COVID and flu cases on the rise, vaccinations advised

Published 10:52 am Friday, December 29, 2023

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Flu and COVID infections are rising, and could get worse as the heart of winter nears and children prepare to go back to school after the holidays. The CDC says high levels of flu-like illnesses have been reported this week. Areawide, hospital officials are concerned that the number of flu and COVID-19 patients in hospitals could peak at around the same time and strain capacity.
Emergency rooms at area hospitals are seeing a high number of cases of COVID and flu cases.
Earlier in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that from mid-November onwards, more people of all ages got sick enough from COVID-19, flu, and RSV to end up in a hospital. The CDC also noted that vaccination rates are low, so more people could end up severely ill and strain hospital capacity.
Some hospitals are requiring visitors to wear masks again, to try and prevent these respiratory illnesses from spreading.
Starting in 2020, when COVID-19 was still a major concern and more people wore masks and stayed away from crowds, the usual winter diseases like flu did not spread as much. But now that those measures are not as common, the flu season is most likely back to normal.
“This is probably the most number of flu cases we’ve seen in the community in many years at this point, so I think we’re on track for having a more traditional flu season,” a public health official said this week.
Before the pandemic, flu cases would typically increase in December and peak in January.
Earlier this month Ballad Health due to a surge in influenza cases increased visitation restrictions at all their hospitals. Hospitals are asking the public to refrain from visiting patients at this time.
With flu cases on the rise, now is a good time to get a flu shot, if you have not got yours. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year. Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu.
Together, annual flu shots, an updated COVID vaccine, and a new RSV vaccine for people 60+ can help us avoid another rough winter. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu. Even if you get sick after receiving a vaccine, the shot can reduce the severity of illness, and that is what health officials want to do.
Studies also suggest that the flu vaccine may help reduce community transmission – meaning that vaccinated people may be less likely to transmit the virus to others, even if they’re infected. That is why the vaccine is an effective way to protect not only yourself but also your family members and people around you who may be more susceptible to the flu.
You might also think about getting a COVID vaccine. Both the flu shot and COVID vaccine not only protect you, but others as well.

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