As several areas of the country struggle to contain surging cases of the novel coronavirus, another infectious disease poses a threat to many: the seasonal flu, which has already killed at least one person in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Department of Health in its most recent weekly influenza report announced the first flu death in the state of the 2020-21 season in a resident who was 65 or older, per the report, which is current as of Oct. 24. No other details were provided.
Additionally, since the end of September, some 118 people have tested positive for the flu in the state. At least 11 of the positives were included in the health department’s most recent report.
Medical experts have urged Americans to remain diligent this year in protecting themselves against the flu amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s particularly important to get vaccinated [against the flu] this year because of the ongoing COVID pandemic: We want people to stay as healthy as possible,” Michelle Lin, an emergency room doctor and professor of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, previously told Fox News. “Since people are trying to stay home and out of the doctor’s office [and/or] ER, there has been a push to make the vaccine available widely earlier.”
Interestingly, however, the results of a survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease (NFID) and conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago found that while most participants agreed the vaccine is the best protection against flu, a smaller percentage actually plan to be inoculated.
In a survey of 1,000 adults ages 18 or older from across the country, 68% agreed that receiving the flu vaccine is the “best preventive measure against flu-related deaths and hospitalizations,” up from 61% the year before.
But by comparison, only 59% of respondents said they actually plan to be vaccinated against the flu, with 15% saying they are unsure. (For context, 52% of respondents in 2019 said they planned to receive the flu vaccine that year.)
“The flu shot is incredibly important because it reduces your risk of contracting the flu,“ added Lin, noting the vaccine “also reduces your risk for complications and passing it to other people, especially pregnant women, young children and the elderly,” who are more susceptible to the virus.