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Delta isn't going away any time soon — and flu season is here

If you think you won't get the flu this year because you avoided it last year, you might want to reconsider getting the flu vaccine.

MINNEAPOLIS — There's some new projections out there right now that predict the worst of the delta wave could soon be over.

But Minnesota health officials say don't let your guard down just yet.

That's because another virus is back — the flu. And the COVID-influenza combo could make for some dangerous months ahead.

It's nice to see headlines like these during trying times, and projections like these show a delta variant peak right now happening nationally. It goes on further to say that there may be a steady decline in COVID cases throughout the winter.

But Minnesota Department of Health folks say not so fast.

"My initial reaction is, I want that to be the case, and I think the commissioner does too. As she said we are not in a place in Minnesota where our case numbers are on the decline, and so it's hard to project to a model that's looking at that happening when we're not seeing that here," MDH Infectious Diseases Director Kris Ehresmann said.  

With statewide cases projected to top 700,000 in the next coming days, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the hopeful wane depends on a few things.

"That really does depend upon continuing to get more people vaccinated and continuing to use more of those mitigation strategies," Malcolm said. 

And this time in the year, there's another thing we can do to help keep hospitals clear.

"Given how tight our health system capacity is, it's just critically important for everyone's health, but also because of health care capacity, to really emphasize the value and importance of getting the flu shot and getting it early," Malcolm added.

Nan Lomen, the clinical supervisor for flu and worksite wellness at Hennepin Healthcare says because we're back out doing things again without mask mandates, flu season could be pretty bad.

"What they're anticipating this year because of that is that it could actually be a record season of people having the flu," Lomen said. "Because we're back together again, mixing again, and they think it could be a really, really bad flu season."

In terms of getting the flu shot, Lomen said the CDC is now allowing concurrent shots.

"The CDC has approved, you can get a COVID vaccination in one arm and the flu vaccination in the other," Lomen said. "You're probably not going to feel great for 24 hours but you can get them at the same time, and we do recommend that people get out and get their flu shot now before the end of October."

Lomen says while delta is surging, and as we navigate inundated hospitals with a healthcare worker shortage, this is the best way to stay out of hospitals.

"Keep in mind you can get COVID and the flu together, which would make you extremely sick," Lomen added. "It's another reason to get a flu shot, and help our system not get overloaded, so there are people who can take care of the people who truly need the care."

Health Fair 11 Drive-thru Flu Fighter Clinics is taking place Saturday and Sunday.

Our nurses will be able to vaccinate anyone age 6 months and older.

The clinic will have the standard flu shot, plus the FluMist nasal spray (ages 2-49 years) and high-dose for seniors (ages 65+).

The Flu Fighter Clinics are 9:00am – 2:00pm.

Location is 600 Northeast Stinson Boulevard in Minneapolis.

Complete details are at www.kare11.com/healthfair.

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