LUBBOCK, Texas — This year is already looking different from where things stood a year ago. Many experts have said that COVID-19 protocols like social distancing and wearing masks not only slowed the spread of the virus — they also played a key role in flu cases hitting record time lows.
As travel restrictions ease back into normal, that also may mean the flu is ready to make a comeback. As hospitals continue to care for those sick with covid, flu cases could send more through their doors.
University Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Brian Payne said historically, vaccines decrease the risk of severe cases leading to hospitalizations.
“We are already seeing some cases [of the flu], I’ve personally diagnosed many while I’ve been working with children,” Dr. Payne said. “And so with that, the sooner we can get people vaccinated, the quicker we can help hopefully make those cases go down.”
Flu season is typically October through February. So, while it is early in the season, it isn’t too early to take precautions or procrastinate getting the shot.
Covenant Health’s Clinical Pharmacy Infectious Diseases Specialist Larry Pineda said it’s no time to let our guard down.
“Last year we hardly saw any flu,” Pineda said. “I hope that people don’t think that that’s going to be the new norm. Because it’s not, you know, influenza will come back. It’s just a matter of when.”
Many people canceled big family gatherings last year, or decided to keep things small due to COVID. This year, more people are expected to travel and spend the holiday with their loved ones, increasing the chance of exposure to the flu.
Lubbock’s Director of Public Health Katherine Wells said the vaccine is our best line of defense.
“We’ve opened up some of the travel restrictions. So, I see that people are gonna be moving around,” Wells said. “And it makes it even more important to get both that COVID-19 vaccine and then also that flu vaccine.”
Visit the Lubbock Health Department to see more information for all vaccines. Covenant is is hosting a COVID vaccine clinic for kids aged 5 to 11 on Saturday, November 13, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the South Plains Mall near JC Penny’s.