Local health experts expect a bad flu season as vaccine hesitancy grows

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(ABC 6 News) – As students return to the classroom this fall many have been thinking about how the coronavirus will impact this school year. People are hesitant to get the COVID vaccine and for those under the age of 12 there’s no option.

Experts at Mayo Clinic said we had fewer flu cases last year because people were masked and social distancing.

This year, however, they’re already seeing more hospitalizations from respiratory viruses across the board. Medical professionals don’t have a lot of information on what a co-infection of COVID-19 and influenza would look like. Experts said. its hard to tell the two apart because they have such similar symptoms.

They said this is especially troubling with growing vaccine hesitancy in our area.

"It’s going to be difficult in regards to isolation policies and quarantines, and things like that if we have a bad flu season and a bad COVID season. In regards to vaccination hesitancy, that’s been a growing problem for years," said Sarah Scherger, head of community pediatrics at Mayo Clinic in Austin and Albert Lea.

Some parents told ABC 6 News that their kids won’t get the flu shot because they feel it makes them more sick. Other parents say that even though they haven’t gotten the shot in past years, they will now. They don’t want to confuse flu symptoms with COVID symptoms. Mayo Clinic is also working with schools to set up flu vaccination clinics – something they weren’t able to have last year.

Mayo is still finalizing those plans.