Local doctor talks flu season concerns on top of COVID-19 surge

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the Arkansas Department of Health reports more than 300 new flu cases in the last week.

Since September of this year, there have been more than 1,300 new flu cases reported by the ADH.
Dr. David Ratcliff is the Chief Medical Officer at Washington Regional; he credits last year’s low number of flu cases to the social distancing and masking that was in place for Covid. This year, however, it is a different story, which is causing a higher number of cases.

Dr. Ratcliff said there is another concern this year, though: the actual flu vaccine and it’s effectiveness. He said the flu vaccine typically addresses two forms of influenza: type A and type B.

In type A, there are two different types of influenza. Doctors have to guess on when deciding what to target with the vaccine.

“Well, they missed it this year for the h3n2, so the influenza vaccine does not appear to be effective in the current h3n2 variant that’s spreading within influenza,” Dr. Ratcliff said. “So, unfortunately, the influenza vaccine is not going to be completely protective this year.”

Dr. Ratcliff does still encourage everyone to get the flu shot, though, because it does still provide some protection, but it is important to practice other safety guidelines in addition to getting the shot.

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