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State health leaders urge Kentuckians to get a flu shot

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - We’re at the start of flu season, and this year doctors are urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Doctors said efforts to get vaccinated last year led to a mild flu season. But with hospitals already at capacity, a bad flu season could overwhelm hospitals.

The steps we took to reduce the spread of COVID also caused our flu numbers to drop dramatically.

“It was also somewhat surprising to really see the cases plummet. So that was probably the lowest flu season we’ve had in decades,” said Dr. Daniel Rodrigue, an infectious disease specialist.

But Dr. Rodrigue said once things started to open back up, the flu was right there waiting.

“We saw an onset and an increase in RSV and influenza, typically kind of outside the range that we would normally see, showing us that it’s still circulating,” said Dr. Rodrigue.

He said there is some concern that the upcoming flu season could add to an already overwhelmed healthcare system.

“We have issues with staffing, medication, ICU availability. All those things. And we have all done measures to try to mitigate that,” Dr. Rodrigue said.

Measures like limiting some outpatient surgeries.

To help, he said a flu shot should be something everyone considers. Like the COVID vaccine, it may not keep you from getting the flu, but it can dramatically decrease your symptoms.

“You’re looking at the potential of having two outbreaks occurring at the same time and putting in additional strain,” Dr. Rodrigue said.

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