COVID-19, flu surges in Michigan have experts concerned

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FILE – In this July 16, 2021, file photo, nurses and doctors in the CoxHealth Emergency Department in Springfield, Mo., don personal protective equipment to treat patients with COVID-19. Many overwhelmed hospitals, with no beds to offer, are putting critically ill COVID-19 patients on planes, helicopters and ambulances and sending them hundreds of miles to far-flung states for treatment. (Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP, File)

Lansing, Mich. — The State of Michigan set a goal of 4 million doses of flu vaccine this season, but as the calendar turns to 2022, it’s yet to reach even 3 million.

Tuesday, mid-Michigan health leaders pointed out that 2020 had virtually zero flu cases, so even if this season may not be as bad as normal, there will be a large uptick in the flu.

That makes 2021-22 the first year with both significant COVID-19 and flu cases, something that’s concerning to those on the front lines, but not unexpected.

“We were wearing masks and avoiding crowds and restricting capacity in certain crowded, you know, bars and restaurants, kinds of things,” said Ingham County Health officer Linda Vail on why there were almost no flu cases last year. “That’s what happened. “

There have already been two reported pediatric deaths, but none so far in Michigan.

However there’s no doubt, the idea of the flu arriving as the health care system is still flooded by COVID-19, has health leaders on edge.

“We have limited people resources,” said Dr. Karen Kent, the Chief Medical Officer at Sparrow Health. “We only have so many infectious disease experts in one community, we only have so many people that know how to run ventilators and take care of ICU patients, we only have so many everything.”

“So when we hear lots of patients competing for those resources, it becomes very stressful for people running hospitals.”

Officials also say much like the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu vaccine will lessen your symptoms should you get sick. On top of that, they are reminding people that while they might not need a hospital for a sickness, there are always other emergencies.

“You should at least be concerned that if you get in a car accident, have a heart attack, you have a stroke, if some other emergency issue comes up, that you should have access to appropriate care in a timely manner,” Vail said. “That should happen without having to deal with a health system that is currently having to triage patients.”

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