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Flu cases down, flu shots up

Flu cases down, flu shots up
Flu cases down, flu shots up
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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (WRGB) — COVID-19 cases may be on the rise, but doctors are seeing significantly fewer flu cases than seasons past. Doctors attribute that to COVID safety precautions.

Albany County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen says they're starting to see some flu cases now, which is later than normal. She says flu season begins in early November and usually peaks in February.

Meanwhile, Dr. Theodore Hausler of the Center for Family Practice in Latham, says he hasn't seen any flu cases yet. "We've done a lot of tests and I have zero cases of flu that I have seen in the office so far," he said.

The New York State Health Department says as of December 22nd, there have been 1,717 flu cases. According to the NYS DOH Flu Tracker, there were more than 5,000 flu cases this time last year.

Doctors thank COVID protocols for lower flu case numbers, like wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.

"And most people have a completely different level of awareness of infection control." Dr. Whalen said.

"More people have been proactive about their health in terms of preventative procedures and vaccines. So, I have seen a lot of people come in and get the flu vaccine - I would say more this year, than in the past - and I've also seen people get routine vaccines too, just to be proactive about their health in general." Dr. Haulser said. He said he's given about 3,000 flu shots at his practice this year, compared to about 2,000 last flu season.

Doctors also want people to realize that the flu and COVID are very different, even though they have similar symptoms.

"Flu is different from Covid, they are completely different viruses, they have different tests, they are not the same disease." Dr. Whalen said.

Dr. Hausler says it's common practice to test symptomatic people for the flu as well as COVID this year, and they are different tests.

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And the doctors encourage you to get a flu shot if you haven't already - and sooner rather than later. They say it takes about two weeks after the shot to build immunity.

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