December 29, 2021

With high hospitalizations due to COVID-19, experts caution flu could strain limited sources

Last year’s flu season was exceptionally mild. In fact, Indiana only reported seven flu deaths – compared to 137 during the 2019-2020 season. - (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Last year’s flu season was exceptionally mild. In fact, Indiana only reported seven flu deaths – compared to 137 during the 2019-2020 season.

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

As hospitalizations from COVID-19 remain high, health experts caution influenza could further strain already limited resources.

Dr. Scott Stienecker is a Fort Wayne epidemiologist with the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. He said hospitals in the northeastern part of the state are already above 100 percent capacity

“And we’re just starting to see the rapid rise of influenza, with predominantly H3 and 2 strain. … It often tends to be very severe, requiring a higher rate of hospitalization,” Stienecker said.

READ MORE: To help hospitals, Hoosiers urged to get vaccines after first flu-related death of season

Last year’s flu season was exceptionally mild. In fact, Indiana only reported seven flu deaths – compared to 137 during the 2019-2020 season. Stienecker said that’s because people were social distancing, wearing masks and staying home. 

“We often see the key driver of both influenza in Indiana – and of COVID – are the group of people between the ages of 5 and 49,” Stienecker said.

Stienecker said there is good news: getting a flu vaccine now will have the best effect.

Indiana reported its first flu death in October. It has reported three flu deaths this season and all were Hoosiers 50 and older.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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