‘We all need to do everything possible’: Health officials urge Wisconsinites to get flu vaccine as coronavirus continues to spread

States with the lowest vaccination rates
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The data looked at 2-year-olds who had 4:3:1:3:3:1 immunization coverage as of 2016, the most recent year statistics were available for. That coverage includes: 4 or more doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus & Acellular Pertussis Vaccine (DTaP); 3 or more doses of Poliovirus; 1 or more doses of Measles, Mumps & Rubella Vaccine (MMR); 3 or more doses of Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (Hib); and 3 or more doses of Hepatitis B Virus (HepB) and 1 or more doses of varicella vaccine.

MADISON, Wis. — State health officials are urging the public to get vaccinated for the flu by Halloween to help keep hospital workers safe while dealing with flu season in the midst of a pandemic.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, getting a flu vaccine is more important because medical workers will be dealing with two respiratory illnesses at the same time.

“Now more than ever, getting your flu vaccine is one of the most important and proactive steps you can take to protect yourself, the people you love, and people around you,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said. “Getting sick from the flu could result in hospitalization at a time when our frontline health workers are doing all they can to help COVID-19 patients recover.”

Officials said the flu vaccine takes two weeks to protect against the virus, which is why the public is being encourage to get the vaccine as soon as possible in anticipation for flu season.

“One of the things we worry about as healthcare professionals is if we have a really bad influenza season on top of a COVID-19 pandemic, that could put us in a tough spot,” UW Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothoff said. “We might run out of personal protective equipment. We could have hospitals that are overrun with people with respiratory disease, and what we don’t want to see is people who get both at the same time.”

Dr. Pothoff and Chief Meteorologist Gary Canalte made an appearance on Live at Four on Wednesday to show how simple getting the vaccine is. During his visit, Pothoff stressed the everyone should get the vaccine.

Last flu season, 42% of Wisconsinites received at least one dose of flue vaccine. In total 36,175 cases were reported, 4,425 people were hospitalized and 183 people died from their infections.

Residents who want to get the vaccine should schedule an appointment by contacting their health care provider. People can also visit vaccinefinder.org to find a provider near them. If cost is a concern, some children are eligible for the Wisconsin Vaccines for Children program.

“Both influenza and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses, but until we have a vaccine against COVID-19, the way to help prevent these two viruses from circulating at the same time is to get your flu vaccine now,” Palm said. “We all need to do everything possible to make a difference this flu season, so let’s keep people flu-free while we focus on ending COVID-19.”

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, health officials also suggest people stay home from work if they’re sick, covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and wash their hands often.