SALT LAKE CITY — Health officials are ordering additional shipments of influenza vaccines and preparing outreach campaigns to persuade more people to get a flu shot this year.
"If there is any year of significance to get the influenza vaccine, this is the year," Rich Lakin, the Utah Department of Health's immunization program manager, said in an interview Monday with FOX 13.
The state is bracing for "double trouble" with flu season approaching in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. They fear that a surge in influenza cases could impact health care capacity that's already trying to be protected from being overwhelmed by novel coronavirus patients.
"If you have flu patients going also to the ICUs, then that’s ICUs being filled where people can’t go if they have heart attacks, they have stroke, they have car accidents, other things that would put them in the ICUs," Lakin said.
Both are respiratory viruses, but unlike COVID-19, influenza has a vaccine. Lakin said Utah has less than a 40% average when it comes to flu vaccinations. This year, they'd like to get it up to 60%. They are also expecting more people will get their flu vaccine. Private providers and Utah's Department of Health have ordered additional vaccines and will begin rolling them out next month.
The flu vaccine can be available at low cost or, in some cases, for free. To find out where you can obtain a flu shot go to health.utah.gov.