State health officials warn flu season could be severe, stress importance of vaccinations

NOW: State health officials warn flu season could be severe, stress importance of vaccinations

MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- After a very mild flu season last year, state health officials are predicting it could be more severe than years past.

Wisconsin health officials are also stressing the importance of getting the flu vaccine as we continue to battle the coronavirus.

"I don't want people to get complacent because they have Covid-19 vaccination and are forgetting about the flu," said Tom Haupt, Wisconsin's influenza surveillance coordinator.

While the 2019-2020 influenza season was basically non-existent in Wisconsin with fewer than 10 cases and zero deaths, Haupt said that might not be the case this year as flu numbers are already higher with 27 cases reported.

State health officials are also monitoring trends in other states as some college campuses are experiencing influenza outbreaks. While it's not happening in Wisconsin, Haupt said it’s a sign that the flu season could be worse than normal.

"We know it's out there, we know it's spreading, it just hasn't hit the community population in many places but we are continuing to monitor very closely," Haupt said.

Some of the symptoms of the flu overlap with those of Covid-19, including fever, headache, chills, cough, sore throat and fatigue. Wisconsin health experts say just because you got the Covid-19 vaccine, it doesn't necessarily mean you have the flu because some have experience breakthrough cases.

Overall, Haupt said there's a way to dramatically reduce your chance of severe illness or hospitalization by getting vaccinated for both viruses.

"Realizing that there's always more than one respiratory virus going around and now were dealing with potentially two very serve viruses, if they both become very high incents it could become a devastating year for us," he said.

Right now, flu vaccination rates are also lower compared to previous years sitting at about 26% or about 1.5 million Wisconsinites. Last flu season about 34% of Wisconsin's population was immunized.

Health experts are urging the importance of getting vaccinated for both the flu and Covid-19 especially as we enter the holiday season as a tool to protect yourself and those around you.

The CDC has confirmed the vaccines can be safely given at the same time.

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