This article appeared in WLNS. Read more here.
As winter rolls into the new year, doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Jackson say cases of the flu are rising. This comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations remain steady.
“We wouldn’t normally expect to have 33 flu hospitalizations. That is a lot,” said Preventative Medicine Physician at Henry Ford Health, Dr. Courtland Keteyian. “In previous years at any given time, you might see you know 5-10 people.”
Doctor Keteyian’s worked to fight COVID-19 since the pandemic started. He says in addition to the 33 flu hospitalizations, there are 20 people hospitalized with COVID-19 including, four in the ICU.
While COVID-19 numbers have not changed in recent months, the rise in flu cases is concerning.
“It’s too many to be hospitalized with the flu and we are seeing lower uptake this year of the flu shot and so it’s really important to encourage people to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Keteyian.
Experts say this year’s flu vaccine covers several strains and is an improvement from years past.
“Coverage of the vaccine this year is actually very high. Most years it’s between 40-60%, and I think when we look back at this year we will see that it was closer to the higher end of that spectrum.
The hospital is also keeping a close eye on new COVID-19 variants. Doctors are prepared. However, it’s impossible to fully predict what’s to come. Dr. Keteyian says right now we are still above the baseline for what would be considered normal.
“We are not out of the woods yet. We are right in the middle of the worst part of the flu and respiratory virus season, and I think we can expect that not only this year and probably in coming years that we are going to have some seasonality to this, and we will have to be prepared for it.”
Experts say the typical flu season will last into the spring. Vaccines are available at most pharmacies or through your health care provider.