Health officials urge people to get flu shots ahead of possible busy season

In the last few months, RHHD has seen flu spread more as people return to their pre-pandemic habits
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2022 at 8:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As COVID-19 cases continue to spread across the Commonwealth, health experts are urging people not to let their guard down regarding the flu.

Over the past few years, the Richmond-Henrico Health District said flu seasons have been mild, but officials have seen more cases in the past few months.

“What we’ve been seeing over the past few months is that flu is spreading more during the summer than it was last year,” said Cat Long, a spokesperson for the Richmond-Henrico Health District.

The Richmond-Henrico Health District attributes the rise in cases as a result of people returning to their pre-pandemic habits.

“Going out in public more and not wearing masks, it is easier for germs to spread,” said Liz Morgan, regional quality leader for CVS MinuteClinic.

Health experts said flu season is always unpredictable, but predictions from the southern hemisphere paint a potential picture of what could come this flu season.

“We also predict our flu season on the Southern Hemisphere, and this year, so far, Australia and Argentina have proven to have a more severe and more active flu season,” Morgan said.

This is why health experts and the CDC advise people to get their flu shots before the end of October, especially those who are 65 and older or immunocompromised.

“If you have to wait until November or later than that, that’s okay as well,” Morgan said. “However, the peak of the flu season is typically in February and goes all the way into May, so it’s really important to get that flu vaccine prior to hitting that peak before it’s really active.”

At the beginning of August, the Virginia Department of Health reported their first influenza-associated pediatric death for the 2021-2022 flu season.

The Richmond-Henrico Health District also said getting your shot before flu season picks up will help prevent the virus’s spread to those most vulnerable.

“I think a lot of people tend to think that the flu isn’t a big deal,” Long said. “There’s this misconception that the flu is like a cold, and while that’s true for a lot of people, it can have very severe illness on people that are higher risk.”

If you need your COVID-19 vaccine or booster, health experts say you can get this and your flu shot in the same visit.

Flu shots are also available at your local pharmacy or health provider.