Arizona flu cases slightly increase, causing what experts call a ‘double peak’

Arizona saw four times the normal number of flu cases last week, creating a "double peak" flu season, doctors say.
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 8:39 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Despite being at what’s typically the end of the flu season, cases are on the rise in Arizona. “The valley had been coming down and it is now hit with a secondary peak that we hadn’t seen before. The cases had been going down,” said Dr. Pedro Rodriguez, chief Of staff at Banner Del E Webb Medical Center.

Dr. Rodriguez says he’s seen an increase in patients who have not received a flu vaccine. And he says even those who do have it could still get sick this late in the flu season. “People feel that the flu vaccine they get in August in August or September or early October is good until now and it probably isn’t covering them too well into may and way into June,” he said.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,026 cases last week. It’s more than four times higher than the average for mid-May, and 965 of those cases were influenza A. “I’ve never seen a double wave, except for H1N1 and that makes perfect sense. And so there has to be something different about this influenza season,” said Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association.

He believes the difference was the omicron COVID-19 variant. “A lot of people were wearing masks during that big omicron wave around the holidays, which led to dampening of the spread of influenza virus, because it’s airborne just like COVID-19,” said Humble.

Dr. Rodriguez says the best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting the vaccine. However, Humble says it could be difficult to find a provider because it is so late in the flu season.