Health officials say more kids could get the flu this year

Flu cases among children expected to rise
Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 9:19 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Health officials said flu season is officially upon us and they are expecting to see a higher number of cases this year compared to last year.

“Absolutely this year is going to be worse,” Dr. David Hicks with the Jefferson County Health Department said. “Last year, we had historically low rates of influenza because people were masking and social distancing.”

State data shows about half of the state got their flu vaccine last year, but normally that number is only around 40 percent or less.

Dr. Hicks said as people tend to ease up on masking and social distancing, the flu could be easy to catch this year, but it won’t necessarily make you any sicker than before.

“I don’t presume it is going to be any more severe,” Hicks said. “I think we will have higher cases, but it is not from severity.”

Hicks said because many kids were homeschooled last year or masked in school, they potentially weren’t exposed to the flu.

“If they haven’t been interacting at daycares as much or they were taken care of at home a lot more, then they really didn’t get their first hit of RSV or the flu as you would normally expect,” Hicks said. “That means for this year, there is going to be kids that probably would have gotten their first exposure a year ago, but they didn’t get it, so this year will be their first time. Then, you have the kids that are already going to be newly exposed that are going to get RSV and the flu.”

Hicks said it is important to get your flu vaccine this year to help keep cases low and help keep people out of the hospital.

“Whether or not it is going to exceed a couple years ago, I don’t know that,” Hicks said. “But, definitely it is going to be higher than last year.”

Dr. Hicks said it is possible to get COVID-19 and the flu or pneumonia at the same time. The state is now allowing COVID vaccines and flu shots to be administered in one doctor’s visit.

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