Created: January 21, 2021 07:14 AM
(ABC 6 NEWS) - This time of year, the flu is usually the most talked-about virus, but that is not the case right now. Flu numbers are down across the nation, compared to years past.
So far this 2020-2021 flu season, 22 people have been hospitalized with the flu in Minnesota, that's compared to more than 4,000 in last years flu season.
Health experts say the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest reasons why the numbers are so low this year.
More people in Olmsted County have gotten the flu vaccine this year due to COVID fears. So far, 54% of the county is vaccinated.
"In 2020, Olmsted County did a little over 87,000 vaccines compared to 84,000 same time last year(2019)," said Leah Espinda-Brandt who is a disease prevention and control nurse manager with Olmsted County Public Health.
Wearing masks and social distancing has also helped make a difference.
"With COVID, I don't think it's replacing influenza, but I think all the things we do to prevent COVID is preventing influenza to a much greater degree than it would otherwise," said Dr. Priya Sampathkumar who is head of infection control at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Sampathkumar said it is good news cases for the flu are lower since we are still dealing with COVID and that is the case worldwide. "Because of all the fears about COVID more people have gotten the flu vaccine than ever before this year, and then flu spreads just like COVID does through respiratory droplets, and wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and staying apart from people, and washing your hands frequently are all things that also prevent the flu," said Dr. Sampathkumar.
She also said we've seen fewer flu cases because it is not as infectious as COVID.
If you have not been vaccinated for the flu yet, health experts recommend getting vaccinated because we are still in the pandemic, and there could be an uptick in cases.
Doctors say getting the flu vaccine can help lower your chances of getting the flu.
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