Local health officials plan for tough flu season

Posted 12/8/22

Local health officials are expecting a tough flu season this winter.

Park County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin, an emergency room doctor at Powell Valley Healthcare, said from observing …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Local health officials plan for tough flu season

Posted

Local health officials are expecting a tough flu season this winter.

Park County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin, an emergency room doctor at Powell Valley Healthcare, said from observing the Southern Hemisphere flu seasons of Australia and New Zealand, health officials in the U.S. have known to expect a higher rate of flu than in the past two years. 

Billin said the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 flu seasons were more mild due in large part to people observing heightened caution during the Covid pandemic. 

“We know we saw less flu in the last few years,” he said. “We were asking people to wear a mask or stay home when sick, wash their hands, cover their cough. Now we’re seeing more influenza because I think people are getting tired of doing those common things.”

So far this flu season Billin said they’re seeing lots of children with RSV locally, as well as many cases of Influenza A. Normally the peak of the season isn’t until January-February. 

While many of the early flu clinics through Park County Public Health and at the county’s hospitals have finished, Billin said there’s still plenty of time to get a flu vaccine, which covers four types of vaccines including H1N1. 

“It’s worth getting a flu shot up through the end of the flu season, up to next spring,” he said. 

There are six to eight different flu vaccines and in multiple forms, including via needle and nasal spray. Vaccines are available for everyone 6 months and older. 

“People should talk to their doctor about getting a flu shot and if it’s right for them,” Billin said. “And washing hands, wearing a mask or staying home when sick, all those things are applicable any year, not just in a pandemic.” 

PVHC uses the Fluarix Quadrivalent, vaccine, designed to provide protection against four different influenza variants.

“Largely due to widespread personal precautions related to COVID-19, reported flu activity was unusually low over the past two flu seasons in Wyoming and across the country. There are indications that may not be the case again,” state public health officer Alexia Harrist said. “Unfortunately, we may be back to normal with flu. We expect influenza will circulate in addition to COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in the coming months.”

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. Symptoms, which come on suddenly, include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, extreme tiredness and muscle or body aches.

Harrist noted it is considered safe for people who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses to receive them as the same time they receive a flu shot.

“We recommend that people stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine protection,” Harrist said. “While we continue to move along past the earlier, emergency stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 remains a concern, especially for our residents who are more vulnerable to its effects.”

Comments