Other Opinion: Do your part by getting your flu shot
Roll up your sleeve and do your part to stem any chance of a “twin-demic.” Get a flu shot.
Medical professionals worry that a tough influenza season on top of the COVID-19 pandemic could produce a deadly one-two punch for all ages and also tax our health care system to exhaustion. That is why hospitals, clinics, care facilities and pharmacies are advocating that everyone get the vaccine, and they are making it easier than ever to do so.
Influenza’s severity varies because the virus changes, but regardless of the virus’s strength or weakness at a given time, the flu season places a substantial burden on people and those who care for them. Consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports influenza has caused 9 million to 45 million illnesses, 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
Now take a look at the region’s recent numbers:
Deaths — about 125 in Minnesota and 183 in Wisconsin in the 2019-2020 flu season. Most were the elderly and those with compromised immune systems — the same people at high risk in the pandemic.
Hospitalizations — Minnesota had more than 4,100 flu-related admissions in the 2017-18 season. Wisconsin documented 36,175 cases of the flu last season and said 4,425 of those resulted in hospitalizations.
Yes, flu kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year. Yes, the nation has documented more than 200,000 COVID-19-related deaths in 2020, and we are in what medical experts explain is the first infection wave.
There is no vaccine for COVID-19, but there is a flu shot. If enough of us get vaccinated, we can lower risks for everyone.
About 45% of U.S. residents got a flu shot last season, so we must do better for 2020-2021. Availability wasn’t an issue the fall of 2019, but some years vaccines have been rationed. Manufacturers, however, are working to meet expected demand, promising to have up to 198 million doses ready — 20 million more than last season, according to the CDC. If every dose is used, 60% of the 311 million population would need to get this voluntary vaccine.
Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever. Flu season officially begins Oct. 1. What are you waiting for?