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Oregon Had Almost No Flu Last Year. What About This Year?

Just the sniffles? Could be the flu.
Just the sniffles? Could be the flu.

With Oregon children back in school, health experts are starting to think about the flu season.

But Oregon didn’t have a serious flu problem last year. With everybody staying home and wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, variations of the flu simply didn’t circulate the way they normally do.

Dr. Ann Thomas, with the Oregon Public Health Division, said continued mask mandates should control the flu’s spread again this year. But she’s less certain about that than she was last year, because schools are open and people are going out again.

“I think the key thing to know is that if you don’t want to get the flu, you should get the flu vaccine,” Thomas said.

Authorities hope people will get the flu vaccine because a bad season could put further pressure on hospitals already struggling with COVID-19.

“When flu is circulating, our hospitals fill up, and we can’t afford to have both things happen this winter,” Thomas said. “There’s no reason why, if you’ve had a COVID vaccine, you shouldn’t be getting a flu vaccine. I wholeheartedly endorse a flu vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine can be safely given at the same time. The federal agency recommends flu shots for everyone six months and older who do not have contraindications.

The CDC received one report of a child dying from the flu during the 2020–2021 season. That compares to 199 pediatric flu deaths the year before.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.