Because of how contagious and deadly the flu itself can be, as well as how similar flu and COVID-19 symptoms can be, officials are stressing the importance of flu shots.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said last year saw 40,000 reported flu cases, resulting in 55,000 emergency room visits and 6,600 deaths.
“Many flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19, and preventing the flu will not only save lives, but it is good public health as it preserves critical hospital medical resources to deal with the COVID pandemic,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said.
Baker said he’s heard from healthcare workers that working through a simultaneous spike in flu and COVID-19 cases would be “incredibly difficult.”
“The point they made to us at that time was from a diagnostic point of view, from a care delivery point of view, from a capacity point of view, having the flu and COVID-19 surge in the commonwealth at exactly the same time would be an incredibly difficult situation for them to manage their way through and they urged us to step up our game — which is already pretty good relative to most of the states around the country — on flu vaccines,” he said.
Baker also touched on the resistance from many in the wake of a state mandate that school children get a flu vaccine. He said the elementary school students currently have an 81-percent flu vaccination rate in Massachusetts, but “we can do better and we should.”
Baker was speaking outside a CVS, which recently announced a dozen new testing locations: