Doctors 'worried' about flu, urge shot after unprecedented low in 2020
WAUWATOSA, Wis. - You've heard for months about the rush to get people vaccinated against COVID-19, but there's another vaccine you shouldn't skip this year.
"The flu season this year, I'll be honest, is something that has a lot of us in infectious disease a bit worried about," said Dr. Mary Beth Graham, medical director of infection prevention and control with Froedtert & the Medical College.
In fall 2020, cases of influenza were at an unprecedented low.
"We had no hospitalizations last year with influenza at our hospital," said Dr. Graham.
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Dr. Graham said that was in large part due to masking, social distancing and fewer gatherings – but this season, she said, the flu will likely make a comeback.
"Flu didn't go away," said Dr. Graham. "It will be here, and when you have a willing nose or respiratory system that the virus can go into, we will see cases."
That's why Dr. Graham urges everyone 6 months and older to get the influenza vaccine, especially as coronavirus cases carry on – with the delta variant, still the predominant strain in the United States.
"Let's take flu out of the picture," said Dr. Graham.
Plus, if you haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19, Dr. Graham said it's perfectly safe to get your flu shot at the same time as your COVID-19 shot, whether that's your single dose of Johnson & Johnson or your first or second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer series.
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In terms of booster shots, Dr. Graham said the average person does not need one just yet. Currently, only those who are immunocompromised can get an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
"Particularly, those who have had a solid organ transplant, bone marrow transplantation, HIV patients who aren't on therapy, patients with active cancer on therapy," said Dr. Graham.
Moderna has announced it's exploring the possibility of a combination COVID-19 booster shot and flu shot but hasn't said where it stands in development.
For the latest on influenza from the CDC, click HERE.
Click HERE to track COVID-19 vaccine information and updates from Froedtert & the Medical College.
In the meantime, if you are unvaccinated and get COVID-19, Dr. Graham is currently conducting a clinical research trial to test a possible treatment option. The purpose of this clinical trial is to look at a trial drug called Molnupiravir to learn if it is effective and safe to treat mild to moderate COVID-19.
To learn more and find out if you qualify for the clinical trial, CLICK HERE.