GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Health experts across our area have a dire warning: get a flu shot this year.
With COVID-19 cases packing hospital rooms across the country, many health experts are worried about an annual threat — the flu.
“I and other infectious disease physicians really worry about this year as there may be some vaccine fatigue, and mask fatigue, and having to deal with influenza and COVID simultaneously,” said Dr. Joseph McBride, assistant professor of adult and pediatric infectious disease at UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control are constantly studying influenza year-round. With fewer flu viruses last year, health leaders had fewer choices to help refine this year’s shot.
“No vaccine is going to be 100 percent,” said Carol Bess, the Infection Prevention Coordinator for Bellin Health. “But they do offer protection. And any form of protection you have is better than not.”
There is one major change now available. The CDC recently changed its guidance saying it is OK to get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. You previously had to wait a few weeks between each.
People Local 5 spoke to on Monday seem mixed on whether or not they would get their flu shot this year.
“No, I’ve never had the flu. For my age, I have a very strong immune system for one thing,” one man said. Another woman told us she just takes her vitamins and is not even considering getting the shot.
“I’m not decided yet because I have diabetes, and other health issues, and I had COVID already and it was really bad,” another woman said.
Local health experts have a clear message.
“Before COVID-19, the flu alone had the ability to overwhelm the capacity at a local hospital. And we saw this last year that COVID can do the same,” said Brown County Public Health Officer Anna Destree.
“Vaccines are safe. We do know that they prevent illness. And even if they don’t prevent illness, they do prevent severe illness, with hospitalization, or even death,” said Bess.
Experts want to remind everyone it takes about two weeks for your body to build immunity from a vaccine. They suggest you should get your flu shot before the end of October to make sure you are properly protected.