Sumary of Health officials urge public to get flu shots in addition to coronavirus vaccine:
- With the new flu season just underway, health officials are urging the public to get their annual shots, which can be administered at the same time as COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Public health experts nationwide warned in 2020 of a possible “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19 that never materialized.
- The threat remains, but the same health and safety measures aimed at keeping the coronavirus in check — mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing and limits on gatherings — so far have proved effective in curtailing the spread of influenza viruses.
- State Department of Health influenza surveillance data through all but the final week of the 2020-2021 flu season, which ended Sept.
- 26, shows that only 0.8% of outpatient visits to “sentinel” health care providers involved patients with influenza-like illness.
- That compares with 2.1% of outpatient visits during the 2019-2020 flu season and 2.4% in the “moderate” 2018-2019 season, before COVID-19 hit the islands.
- The DOH has separately reported only a single death from influenza during the 2020-2021 flu season compared to 29 the previous season.
- But the just-announced easing of restrictions as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined in recent weeks could open the door to more widespread flu infections, according to Ron Balajadia, chief of the DOH Immunization Branch.