Flu shots already available at metro clinics as health experts say influenza may not wait for winter | KSTP.com

Flu shots already available at metro clinics as health experts say influenza may not wait for winter

Ellen Galles
Updated: September 13, 2021 06:46 PM
Created: September 13, 2021 05:22 PM

Beginning Monday, Allina Health clinics across the metro started offering flu shots by appointment.

Even though it's still technically summer, some health experts are concerned the flu season won't wait for winter.

"This year, you ought to go get it as soon as you can," said Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious disease specialist with Allina Health.

There are worries this year's flu season could begin at a time when emergency rooms are already filling up and testing capacity is stretched thin due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, widespread mask mandates, as well as remote work and school, made for a nearly non-existent flu season. However, that can also mean most people don't have immunity built up from last year's strain.

Rhame said it's not too early to schedule a flu shot.

"COVID makes it more important to get [a flu shot] because the concurrent illness is more severe and we don't want to stress out testing facilities," he said.

When trying to predict how severe this year's flu season might be, doctors are looking at case numbers for a different type of virus: respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Like the flu, RSV cases were low last year. This year, RSV cases have appeared early and are exploding in certain parts of the country.

Health experts say that could be telling because both viruses typically have similar transmission patterns.

Copyright 2021 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

5 injured in house explosion in Cambridge, Minnesota

Fatal crash closes portion of Highway 100 northbound Saturday night

Experts say colder weather may mean an uptick in COVID-19 cases this winter

12-year-old boy shot on east side of St. Paul

Police federation says St. Paul vaccine mandate could cause more staffing issues