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Why’s the flu down this year? Local experts point to COVID-19

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 3:00 PM CST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The number of people getting their flu shots this year around the country is at a record high with more than 190 million people vaccinated.

At the Kroger on Washington Road in Augusta, things are no different.

“Definitely there’s been an increased interest this year -- both flu vaccines, and even some of the other vaccines like shingles,” pharmacy manager David Rychly said.

Rychly says his Kroger branch has already given out more than 1,100 flu shots this year. That’s already 6 percent more than last year with months still left to go in flu season.

“The pandemic has really demonstrated what kind of devastation an uncontrollable virus can bring to a society,” Rychly said.

Over at Publix, managers say they entered the 2020 flu season with more vaccines than ever, anticipating the demand. Still, they say they now have a “limited supply of vaccines for customers under the age of 65.

That high demand of flu shots is one of the reasons instances of the flu are so low this year. At Augusta University, it’s almost non-existent.

“This year looks like a flat line,” AU Health’s Dr. Phillip Coule said. “Last year looks like a mountain.”

Coule also says people wearing masks, social distancing, and not travelling internationally also contributes to the low rates of flu.

“To those that say that those measures don’t work, they definitely work and the decline in influenza cases is evidence,” Coule said.

He says now is not the time to let our guards down. Because doctors say hospitals couldn’t handle an influx of flu and COVID.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, and you want to, it is not too late.

Health leaders say flu season really doesn’t end until March, so you can your vaccine through January and February and keep yourself safe.

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