Residents responding, demand high for flu shots amid COVID

DOVER — With COVID-19 still a threat, state officials have urged Delawareans to receive their flu shots early this year and the public has responded.

Beebe Healthcare has vaccinated more than 3,100 community members through 13 flu clinics. That is about 75% of the total number of vaccinations Beebe recorded last year in more than 30 clinics.

This figure from Beebe doesn’t include its team members, where more than 2,200 were vaccinated in a 48-hour period in September.

There’s been so much volume at Beebe’s clinics that there have been some delays in supply of the vaccine. Those interested in attending a Beebe clinic can view a schedule of up-to-date flu clinics, including if any are canceled when supplies run out, at https://www.beebehealthcare.org/vaccinate-48.

“We’ve seen an overwhelming demand for flu shots from the community this year, which is really encouraging considering how important being vaccinated is with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Bill Chasanov, clinical transformation officer and infectious disease physician at Beebe Healthcare. “While we have had some delays in delivery, we are working to keep people informed of what is available at our scheduled flu clinics. We appreciate the community’s understanding and encourage all to not delay getting a flu shot and to visit your primary care provider, a state-run clinic, or pharmacy or grocery store.”

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) also is providing flu clinics this year. Its schedule can be viewed at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html.

“We highly encourage individuals who have a primary care provider or insurance coverage to utilize flu vaccinations offered through their primary care offices and pharmacies,” the DPH said in a statement through spokeswoman Jen Brestel.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines the height of flu season as starting in October and lasting anywhere from March to May. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot by the end of October.

The flu has been such a point of emphasis this year because it usually puts Delaware’s healthcare system under strain and the number of those hospitalized with COVID-19 has steadily increased in October.

Last year Delaware had more than 7,000 cases of the flu and 400 individuals ended up hospitalized. There were also 11 recorded deaths due to the flu.

This year there have been 22,942 positive cases of COVID-19 and 664 COVID-19 related deaths, according to statistics from DPH, which reflect data as of 6 p.m. Friday.

Some locations, including Walgreens and other pharmacies, are offering COVID-19 tests and flu shots. It is OK to do both in the same visit, said Ms. Brestel, “as long as appropriate infection control measures are in place.”

If an individual is displaying COVID symptoms, it might be best to wait until after symptoms subside, or the individual tests negative for COVID-19 to receive a flu shot.

“Our clinics will continue to screen for COVID symptoms to provide a safe environment for clients and staff,” Ms. Brestel said. “Depending on the severity of symptoms, it may be recommended that people wait for the flu shot after symptoms improve or resolve. People should discuss with their primary care provider or pharmacist.”

The CDC offers a free resource online for those looking for a flu shot in their neighborhood — visit www.vaccinefinder.org to search for flu vaccines by ZIP code.

Those looking for a COVID-19 test in Delaware can visit de.gov/gettested.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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