Health experts urge people to get flu shots ahead of flu season
Typically, a flu season in the U.S. will lead to 810,000 hospitalizations and 61,000 deaths.
Those rates have been much lower in recent years because the preventative measures taken for COVID also reduced circulation of influenza.
Health experts are concerned about this upcoming flu season.
There are fewer COVID-19 preventative measures in place as deaths and hospitalizations from the virus decline.
But because of those measures in the past preventing a high activity flu season, health experts are worried people’s immune systems might not be as strong if they get the flu this year.
Allyson Balthazor is a clinical pharmacist who is completing her first year of pharmacy residency at Aspirus Wausau Hospital.
“The number one thing you can do to minimize your risk of getting the flu is get your flu shot, in addition, normal hand hygiene habits that we’re all so familiar with now, things like washing our hands, not touching our face and avoiding people who are sick with the flu," said Balthazor.
The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone six months and older.
Those at who are at higher risk are strongly recommended to get the flu shot. That includes people who are pregnant, children younger than 2 years old, adults older than 65, and people with a chronic health condition like asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
“The best time to get the flu shot would be September and October. Getting the flu shot too early might mean that you’re not protected later on in the flu season. So we recommend September and October. If you get it later than that, that’s okay," said Balthazor.
Aspirus will be offering flu shots at its primary care clinics starting mid-to-late September.
You can call your primary care clinic to set up an appointment.
Many health departments have upcoming flu vaccine clinics.
Oneida County Health Department has some that offer both the flu and COVID booster vaccines.
You can get both shots at the same time.
Many pharmacies are also offering both shots.
Balthazor recommends talking to your health care provider if you have questions about any vaccine and what is best for you.