Doctors encourage vaccinations as flu season surges

SPOKANE, Wash. — The novel coronavirus has dominated headlines over the last month, but doctors say it doesn’t even come close to the threat of the flu, which is seeing a surge in cases right now.

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this season is hitting kids especially hard — it’s on pace to become one of the most deadly in recent history. So far this season, 92 kids have died from flu-related illness. At this point in the 2017-18 season, flu-related illnesses had killed 99 children, according to the CDC.

With that in mind, Multicare-Rockwood physician Jennifer Colvin told 4 News Now the flu isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

“When something like coronavirus hits, and it’s this huge outpouring of information from the media, from everywhere you’re looking and it’s this virus that no one’s heard of, and it’s got this exotic background and it’s something we’re all teriffied from and we kind of lose that scale,” Colvin said.

According to the CDC, the flu has killed 14,000 people in the U.S. which is nearly seven times more than those killed across the world by the coronavirus. A report Monday from the World Health Organization showed 1,775 people had been killed by the coronavirus globally, with the majority of deaths in China.

“I almost went to the ER last night because my temperature got so high, so I was like ‘maybe I’m dying, maybe my brain’s gonna boil because my fever was so high,’ so, yeah, you do kind of feel like you’re getting hit by a bus,” said Jenna Hamilton, who was just diagnosed with influenza B.

Hamilton said she has never gotten a flu shot and even though she has the flu now, doctors told her to get vaccinated, because she could still contract another strain of influenza.

Colvin said the flu shot typically takes two weeks to kick in, but it isn’t guaranteed to protect you from all strains of the flu.

“If you have the vaccine and it does not necessarily cover the strain of flu you’ve contracted, it’s still better than not having any vaccine at all,” said Colvin. “You’ll be sick for a much shorter amount of time and it’s less dramatic I think, even if you have the flu shot.”