Ahead of the peak of flu season, experts are urging everyone to get their flu shots. Couple that with what health experts are calling a “Twindemic” of COVID-19 and the flu. They say minorities are especially at risk at this time.
The peak of flu season is around December and anyone older than 6 months should receive the shot.
The CDC says people from ethnic minority groups have higher rates of severe flu cases.
“Being at higher risk, due to a number of factors, we want to encourage African Americans and Hispanics and Latinos in particular to get a flu shot this year,” says Dr. Leandris Liburd, Associate Director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the CDC.
Overall, these ethnic groups have a history of being under-vaccinated for the flu. Gaps in healthcare and other economic challenges play a factor in vaccination numbers.
“We do have options now, we have vaccines and we know in the absence of those will we continue to see high levels of hospitalization and even high levels of death,” says Dr. Liburd.
“That’s true whether you live in New York or North Dakota,” says Dr. Willie Underwood, a member of the Board of Trustees for the American Medical Association
Last year, Kaiser Family Foundation found that 51.7% of Black people in North Dakota received the flu vaccine.
“Every year, 41 million people will get the flu and as many as 710,000 will end up being hospitalized because of the flu,” says Dr. Liburd.
The push for flu vaccinations has been important especially during the pandemic. But health experts are encouraging everyone to get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines in what they’re calling a “Twindemic.” But mitigation measure during the middle of the pandemic have had an unforeseen drawback.
“Last year people were social distancing, wearing a mask, kids weren’t in school, and we did all the COVID metigation measures that decrease our risk of getting the flu but it also decreased our immune system to the flu itself,” says Dr. Underwood.
But, Dr. Underwood says vaccines are still safe and effective.
“It protects you from having to go to the doctor and ultimately being hospitalized with some sort of severe complication,” says Dr. Liburd.
The best practice they say you can do, is getting your shot and encouraging others to do so as well.
“You don’t have time to get sick, I don’t have time to get sick, we don’t have time to get sick and we can’t afford to be sick,” says Dr. Underwood.
Visit here to find out where you can get a flu shot in your area.