Health officials want to prevent the spread of the flu during the COVID-19 pandemic
As the flu season begins and communities continue to combat the COVID-19 virus, public health officials stress that getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever this year. By getting vaccinated, you can prevent one respiratory virus, the flu, from circulating at the same time as another respiratory virus, COVID-19.
When we protect people from the flu by getting vaccinated, we help keep them from being hospitalized, which helps our health care workers who are caring for people with COVID – a win-win. By getting the flu vaccine, you protect yourself and help your community too.
In Wisconsin’s 2019-2020 flu season, there were 36,175 flu cases reported, 4,425 flu-related hospitalizations, and tragically, 183 deaths, including three children, and the highest number of pregnant people hospitalized for flu. While these statistics are alarming, a combination of flu and COVID-19 cases could result in even more severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths this year, and put additional strain on Wisconsin’s health care providers working to care for today’s COVID patients. The first step is to prevent a bad flu season by getting as many people vaccinated as possible.
Health care providers all across Wisconsin are making sure that you can get vaccinated in a safe and convenient way, whether at a special vaccination drive in a nearby church or supermarket parking lot, curbside at your doctor’s office, or at a socially distanced vaccine appointment inside a clinic or pharmacy. Safety precautions related to COVID-19 also include sanitizing at clinics, temperature taking, and special scheduling.
It is important to protect yourself and your family before the flu starts to spread in your community, which typically happens in the late fall in Wisconsin. Since it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to protect you against the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension recommend that everybody age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine by Halloween.
Call your health care provider today to make vaccine appointments for yourself and your family. You can also use vaccinefinder.gov to find a provider near you. If the cost of the vaccine is a concern, you or your children may be eligible for free or lower-cost vaccines https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/vfc.htm.