JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Flu activity nationwide is lower than usual for this time of year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Florida Department of Health is also reporting low activity statewide.
“It is unusual,” said Dr. Sunil Joshi, Duval County Medical Society Foundation President. “For us, our flu season tends to be much, much worse in December, January and into early February whereas the rest of the country maybe this is the worst time of the year, February, so it is unusual for us to see it much lower.”
Dr. Joshi said the COVID-19 safety measures in place and higher vaccination rates could be contributing to the low number of cases.
He said 47.4% of the adult population in Northeast Florida got the flu shot. That’s up from 36.9% in an average year.
“I think the campaign really helped, promoting the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine. People have learned how safe and effective the vaccine is at preventing the flu,” explained Dr. Joshi. “But also there is such a heightened knowledge of viruses with Covid-19 and everything going on this past fall into winter. People understood, at that point in time, especially in September, October, November, and early December, we didn’t even have a vaccine for Covid but we did have a vaccine for the flu which is highly effective and can keep people out of the hospital and I think that got people more interested than typical in getting the flu vaccine.”
Dr. Joshi said this year will be a lesson going forward.
“I think number one, the vaccines work. The flu vaccine can be very, very helpful at preventing the flu and preventing people from being hospitalized as a result of the flu,” said Dr. Joshi. “I think we are all learning a lot about the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and washing our hands.”
Dr. Joshi told News4Jax it is not too late to get your flu shot. However, he said you should not get the flu shot if you have received the Covid-19 vaccine within the last 14 days.
For more information, visit the #FluVaxJax campaign website.