OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – As we see a spike in COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant in our community, health officials say the flu numbers are making a big leap too.
The Children’s Hospital reports that the number of children receiving their flu vaccines at their doctor’s clinics has also fallen dramatically.
“As of today I already have six positive results in my office. I’m doing some tests right now, but this is crucial for us to get vaccinated as soon as possible, ”says Shannon Godsil, pediatrician at the Val Verde office in La Vista.
“Our numbers are down 32% this year from last year when it comes to the flu vaccine,” she adds.
There are several reasons for this, she adds.
The first was that last year flu numbers were so low due to more masking and more precautionary measures, creating a false sense of security for this flu season. Last year there was also the fear of an “rewound”.
“I think many of the pediatric population in particular were concerned about how influenza and COVID might look together. Vaccine was not yet available at the time.”
But now you see patients suffering from both diseases at the same time. Many of them also suffer from RSV, which has been ramping up since this summer and is still very common in the community, adds Godsil.
“When you talk about children under the age of five, you know they are at a much greater risk of being hospitalized, especially when it comes to children with the flu under the age of two. We have had patients positive for RSV and COVID, today COVID and influenza, so it is always worrying what these viruses can do together. “
The Douglas County Health Department has also seen flu numbers have doubled.
“Before last week we had 143 cases this season, which is a significant increase from last year, but we had another 143 cases last week alone and that is certainly a cause for concern,” said Phil Rooney of the health department.
Rooney also encourages the community to remember that these are just the numbers reported, so it is likely much lower than the actual number of flu cases in the community. Still, it shows how quickly the disease is spreading.
Both Rooney and Godsil say the more these flu numbers rise, the more local hospitals will become overburdened.
They say the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.
“It may not be 100% effective at keeping you from getting sick, but it is extremely effective at keeping you alive and out of the hospital, so this is a very good reason to get the vaccine,” adds Rooney.
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