OAKLAND, Calif. - Lack of a national free flu shot program complicates upping flu shot use.
In order to avoid what some experts call a "twindemic," a combination of COVID-19 and influenza, medical experts are encouraging people to get a flu shot sooner rather than later.
If you have resisted getting as flu shot, this shot of scientific information should sober a lot of people up.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the U.S. over the past nine years, flu deaths have averaged about 37,000 a year with far less than half of American adults getting a flu shot. But, COVID news and with flu season upon us, people might be more motivated.
"I wouldn't not expect an increase because from studies just only about one-third of Americans get their annual flu shot," said Dr. Peter Chin Hong, a UCSF Infectious Disease Expert.
A major midwest grocery/pharmacy chain, Meijer, told Supermarket News that it expects a 75% increase in flu shots for this season. But what about here, in more temperate-climate California? Safeway's Bay Region pharmacy manager says it's too early to tell.
"I will say, we are preparing for it. We are doing a number of things to make it easier for our patients and customers in the store to get flu shots," said Mr. Taft.
In less than a year, coronavirus death have claimed more than 202,000 lives in the U.S.; five and a half times the annual flu rate. Flu could easily be a deadly underlying condition to COVID.
"There's gonna be an interaction between flu and Covid that we don't fully understand yet," said Dr. Hong. Bear in mind, sick people coming in to medical facilities must be tested for what they really have: a common cold, traditional flu or Covid-19 slowing the whole process down. "So, by getting your flu shot, you take one of the variables out of the equation," said Dr. Hong.
All that said, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores commissioned a poll to find out what patients really think is important.
Two-thirds, 67% of respondents said, getting a flu vaccination is important to protecting health right now. Eighty-six percent say it's wearing a mask. Eighty-nine percent: distancing.Ninety-three percent: washing hands; the same as staying home when ill. "Now more than ever as we enter the fall and winter right on the heel of flu season, we must be sure we do more. Getting the flu shot can be an ultimate form of protection," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary.
Fact is: punditry and political posturing aside, this flu season looks to be a true twindemic seeking a high price in lives. Lack of a national "free flu shot program" complicates upping flu shot use.