The Lead

As flu cases increase, state health officials urge Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated

By: - January 20, 2022 3:33 pm

Brenda Shobert, RN with Aveanna Health Care, administers a COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference, which provided an update on 2021-2022 flu season and encouraged Pennsylvanians to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible, inside Montgomery County Human Services Center in Norristown on Thursday, January 20, 2022 (Commonwealth Media Services photo)

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, state health officials are urging Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated – for the flu and COVID-19 – this winter. 

Speaking to reporters in Montgomery County on Thursday, Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said she wanted “to remind Pennsylvanians to take preventative measures, including getting a flu vaccine to protect themselves, their family and communities from the flu this season.”  Johnson was joined at the event by local leaders and other state Health Department officials. 

Cases of the flu have been reported in all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties as of Jan. 18, according to the Health Department. 

There have been 28,475 laboratory-confirmed flu cases, and 16 confirmed deaths so far this season, according to state health data.

Additionally, officials said they were concerned that Influenza-like Illness (ILI) symptoms, such as fever, cough and sore throat, have increased over the last week. 

“While flu seasons vary and more people are getting tested more frequently as COVID-19 symptoms can be like flu symptoms, this week’s report is higher than this same week last year and even higher when compared to this same week in 2019,” a statement from the Department of Health read. “At this time, it is still below the state epidemic threshold.”

Annual flu vaccines are available in injection form for anyone six months of age or older and in nasal spray form for anyone two years of age and older. 

A list of vaccine clinics statewide can be found here. 

“It is not too late to get your flu vaccine if you have not already done so,” Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection Ray Barishansky said. “We know that people who get the flu after being vaccinated have less severe symptoms and are not sick for as long as those who do not get vaccinated. We also know that the COVID-19 vaccines do not protect you from getting the flu. So, while we have been encouraging everyone to get COVID-19 vaccines, you still also need to get your flu vaccine.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.