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Health expert: This year's flu season is expected to be worse than last year's

Child flu deaths this season rise to 63; CDC says flu hospitalizations extremely high
Posted at 4:29 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 20:17:54-04

PHOENIX — Health experts anticipate that this year's influenza season will be more severe than last year as more people seem to be getting together and gathering more often.

Between August and mid-September, there have been eight laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, according to the Arizona Department of Health Service's online dashboard.

During the 2020-2021 season, there have been 1,156 confirmed cases of the flu, compared to more than 36,000 confirmed cases during the 2019-2020 season, according to ADHS.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Marjorie Bessel, a chief clinical officer at Banner Health, told reporters that she expects this year's flu season to be moderate to severe, though officials are continues to monitor the trends.

“We are working with a number of different models to try and forecast what the future looks like, and those models are still showing that we will have an increase in cases in this upcoming winter,” she said. “There are variables that are very much under our control within our communities to help make that either not happen, or happens to a lesser degree; it’s called vaccinations."

Flu vaccines are available at most major pharmacies and grocery stores, including Albertson's, Bashas', CVS, Fry's Food Stores, Safeway, Walgreens, and Walmart.

Like last year, concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially the fast-spreading delta variant, and its impact on hospital beds and resources, remain.

Government and Arizona health officials continue to encourage and recommend people get the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the CDC, the flu shot and the COVID-19 can be given during the same visit.

"Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine: If you haven’t gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October," according to the CDC's Frequently Asked Questions about the 2021-2022 flu season.

"At this time, we believe that the most constrained resource will be our very skilled staff," said Dr. Bessel. "Those are our nurses, our respiratory therapists, other clinicians, and physicians."

As of Wednesday, more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported to the state, as well as 19,959 deaths.