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Friday, March 31, 2023

Minnesota health officials urge vaccines, caution this holiday season

Getting new COVID-19 and influenza shots should be added to your already lengthy holiday to-do list.

Health officials in Minnesota are advising citizens to take every precaution possible this holiday season to avoid contracting the “triple whammy” of respiratory viruses that are now in circulation: COVID-19, the flu, and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus.

While a vaccine to prevent RSV is still being developed, vaccinations are essential for halting the spread of COVID-19 and the flu. Health officials are also encouraging locals to wash their hands, use masks in crowded places, and stay at home if they are sick.

It is hoped that Minnesota will see out the year without adding to the strain on its already overworked and underfunded hospitals. Although vaccines are not a foolproof barrier to infection, they do assist in preventing serious illness that necessitates hospitalization.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Jan Malcolm, the state health commissioner, said, “So much of what happens in the next several months is up to us.” “Our decisions have influence and a bearing on the larger community,”

Residents haven’t been choosing to obtain updated COVID-19 and influenza immunizations as frequently as health experts would want. Only 20% of residents in the state have received their coronavirus vaccinations, and around 10% fewer people are getting flu shots this year than in years past, according to health officials.

The most recent bivalent COVID-19 booster offers defense against both the historically prevalent coronavirus strains and the extremely infectious omicron strain. Anyone who is at least six months old can receive the vaccine.

Malcolm admits that the coronavirus pandemic and public health precautions have been a struggle for the past three years. She cautioned the populace, however, not to relax their guard.

She added that while fatigue was natural, it was also risky.

Despite the fact that Minnesota appears to have avoided the projected fall increase, COVID-19 levels have been rising recently. With about 600 patients admitted to hospitals last week due to the coronavirus, the state has likewise seen a plateau in coronavirus hospitalizations.

Over the course of the three-year epidemic, COVID-19 has hospitalized more than 77,000 patients, and 13,773 Minnesotans have passed away.

RSV and influenza levels spiked early in this season and have remained high.

The most recent influenza report from the state revealed that more than 1,850 people have already been admitted to hospitals this season and 30% of flu tests are returning positive results. There have been outbreaks at 26 long-term care homes and 782 schools, respectively.

There are some indications that the rate of infection may be decreasing, but health authorities cautioned that it is still vital to exercise caution because there are numerous flu strains now circulating and because people will be congregating over the holidays.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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