This story appeared in WWMT. Read the full story here.

As of Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, fewer flu cases had been reported across the nation and in Michigan during the flu season compared to the same period in 2019.

The World Health Organization and Dr. Jamie Garfield, associate professor of thoracic medicine and surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, attributed the low case rates to safety precautions people were taking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are masking and distancing, which will certainly limit the spread of any respiratory viral infection,” Garfield said. “Better awareness and hopefully more vaccination.”

Garfield, an American Lung Association expert, said less than 50% of Americans were vaccinated against influenza in 2019.

She said the American Lung Association was working to get as many people vaccinated as possible in 2020.

She said people who got the vaccination helped protect their communities, and were less likely to die or be hospitalized.

“If we add the effect of flu and effect of COVID-19, we worry about health care systems being overwhelmed, and the quality of care will be compromised and patient safety will be compromised,” Garfield said.

As of Nov. 1, only a handful of people had been reported to have a coinfection in the United States, but Garfield said health experts worried there would be more.

Garfield said it was never too late to get a flu shot, and there were many locations to get one at little to no cost in West Michigan.