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With flu on the rise, doctors urge vaccines before the holidays

Channel3000.com | News 3 Now
Channel3000.com | News 3 Now
 2022-12-05

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MADISON, Wis. — Upper respiratory illnesses like the flu are on the rise in Wisconsin, just in time for the holidays.

UW Health reported a spike in flu cases with 422 reported in the last week of November, up from 190 just the week prior. That’s compared to November 2019, the last pre-COVID flu season, when fewer than 10 influenza cases were reported during the entire month.

Local doctors urged people Monday to get vaccinated before traveling to be with family. Not only is flu impacting the state, but so is COVID-19 and RSV.

RELATED: Hospitals strained amid surge in RSV and flu cases

Dr. David Ottenbaker, SSM Health’s vice president of Wisconsin ambulatory clinical programs said the strategies learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can serve well now. That includes wearing a mask in crowded spaces, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated. You can even get the flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 shot.

“We do know COVID is surging right now, and again, it’s the same strategy that the vaccines will help mitigate the disease,” Ottenbaker said. “We strongly recommend the booster for COVID…you can give them together very safely.”

The flu virus mutates every season, meaning it’s hard to know the exact efficacy of this season’s vaccine, but Ottenbaker said that the jab will get the job done.

“In general they are very effective, and mitigate the spread of the disease and mortality,” he said. “Very safe, very low side-effect profile, and very effective.”

In terms of side effects, you might feel some arm soreness or a low-grade fever after getting your flu shot, but Ottenbaker said these symptoms are normal.

“This is going to be, and already is, a very robust upper respiratory season in all three illnesses,”  he said. “Get your vaccine and use common sense as you go through and enjoy the holiday season.”

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