Flu cases up 44% in Arizona, doctors worry about vaccination rates

Doctors say we could see a rough flu season and more COVID-19 cases than usual, and urging everyone to get vaccinated.
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 6:09 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — It’s only the first week of November, and already, local and state health providers are seeing a rising number of flu cases. Dr. Michael White is the chief clinical officer at Valleywise Health. He says the patients coming into the emergency room right now range from children to seniors to seemingly healthy adults. “A lot of folks will get that upper respiratory tract type symptoms, the cough and cold,” said White. “But really, what happens with the flu is a lot of high fever, a lot of body aches. It’s that part of the flu that makes people a lot more miserable.”

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, flu cases are up 44% across the state compared to this time last year, and that’s raising some red flags, considering the peak of flu season is usually around January or February. But the flu isn’t the health concern Arizonans need to be aware of.

COVID-19 cases are also high, and the number of people getting the COVID-19 shot is extremely low. Right now, only about 3% of Arizonans have gotten the new COVID-19 vaccine, according to AZDHS, and that could be an issue heading into the holiday season.

Dr. Eugene Livar is the assistant director of Arizona’s Public Health Preparedness. He’s urging the public to get a flu and COVID-19 vaccine shot, not only to protect themselves but the people around them. “We just had Halloween. We are coming up on Thanksgiving, and coming up on the holidays in December and January,” said Livar. “We’re probably going to see more congregating indoors, more close proximity to friends and family, and so this is the perfect time to get vaccinated. It is still out there among us, and its one of those things we have to stay vigilant about this fall and winter Season.”

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