Thu, 09 Dec 2021

ST. PAUL, Minnesota - Parts of Minnesota are still seeing a COVID-19 surge, with the flu season also taking shape. Health officials say that dangerous mix should remind people about the need for preventive steps.

In a new national survey from the American Heart Association, three in five respondents say they may delay or skip getting a flu shot this year. At the same time, state leaders and health providers warn the pandemic is putting a strain on Minnesota hospitals.

Kelly Robinson - a registered nurse and president of the Minnesota chapter of Black Nurses Rock - said whether you're reluctant to get a COVID shot or flu shot, taking the next step is beneficial during a public health crisis.

"And you can get them at the same time in different arms," said Robinson. "There's no waiting period - you know, if you got your flu shot last week, you can get your COVID vaccine this week."

Health experts note both vaccination efforts are tied to historical barriers and health-system distrust from underserved communities. There also are arguments about personal or religious freedoms.

But Robinson said she was encouraged by long lines for flu shots at a recent outreach event. Nearly all survey respondents who got a flu shot last season said they plan to do so again this year.

Breakthrough cases for people vaccinated against COVID have been described as rare. Robinson said that's also the case with the flu, and the added level of protection the flu shot provides is key for a better outcome.

"Every year, certain people get the flu," said Robinson. "You may get sick, feel lousy for a week, but you know that you will recover."

Robinson, who also is a volunteer with the Heart Association, said the goal is to avoid the dangerous situation of contracting both viruses back-to-back.

Apart from immunizations, people can protect themselves by washing their hands frequently, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks.

Source: Minnesota News Connection

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