MINNEAPOLIS — Washing your hands frequently. Covering your cough. Staying home from work or school when sick. Wearing face coverings when in crowded areas.
Public health experts say the measures put in place during the pandemic helped to keep the flu at bay during the past couple years.
But now, people are relaxing those efforts and that’s allowing influenza to rebound. A virologist with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health says Australia is experiencing its worst flu season in five years. Flu trackers routinely study illness rates in the southern hemisphere, where it is winter now, to gauge the potential of the coming influenza season in the United States.
Time to get your annual flu shot
In Minnesota, flu season typically runs October through April. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says thousands of Minnesotans are hospitalized during a typical flu season. According to a recent WalletHub report, Minnesota has the 10th best flu vaccination rate in the country. Even so, data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows less than 60% of Minnesotans get flu shots each year.
Who should get a flu shot?
According to MDH, almost everyone should get annual flu shots. MDH recommendations:
- Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year unless they cannot because of medical reasons.
- People most at risk for complications from flu:
- People age 65 and older.
- Children under 5 years.
- Pregnant women.
- People with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
- American Indian and Alaska Native.
Check with your regular clinic to see if they have flu vaccine available. Most retail pharmacy chains and grocery stores with pharmacies have been offering shots since early September. Some even offer drive-thru flu shots for extra convenience. Use this link to find a flu shot provider in your area.
Resources used in this article
Minnesota Department of Health flu shot basics
Two reasons why this could be a bad flu season - via The Hill
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