Doctors recommend Vermonters get flu shots sooner rather than later

After an off year because of pandemic precautions, the flu is coming back according to medical experts.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 8:30 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After an off-year because of pandemic precautions, the flu is coming back, according to medical experts.

Kinney Drugs said Australia is coming out of its winter flu season that exceeded its five-year average, with COVID-19 cases rising at the same time.

So, like every year, Vermonters are encouraged to get the annual flu shot.

Getting in line for the flu vaccine has become routine for thousands of Vermonters.

“It’s just a priority to get it every year,” said Alexis Merchant of Colchester.

In the latest data from the 2020-2021 season, more than 287,000 Vermonters got the shot with increases seen in nearly every age group from the previous season. The age groups most likely to get the shot in Vermont were the 6 months to 4 years age group and the 65 years and older.

Pharmacist Ryan Ayres of South Burlington’s Kinney Drugs expects to see an uptick in flu cases this season.

“We are starting to get out of the pandemic a little bit and people are feeling more comfortable being around others taking off masks and not probably cleaning as well as had been in the past,” Ayres said.

And as the pandemic continues, some Vermonters say they’ve been paying close attention to vaccinations of all kinds.

“We’ve all had disease be really actively present in our lives recently, so it makes sense to take that as a learning experience instead of acting like everything’s fine,” said Essex resident Miles Rapaport.

The high case rate in Australia over the winter season in conjunction with a rise in cases has pharmacists encouraging the shot.

“September and October are probably the best times to get vaccinated so that way, the immune system has time to build up, and then they’re good to go for when flu season comes,” said Ayres.

People can get the flu shot at pharmacies all over the state.

At Kinney, they offer a needle-free vaccine. They also are offering a new tool called “Buzzy the Bee” which is an ice-cold device that vibrates on your arm. It’s supposed to provide a distraction for folks who don’t like needles well as numb the area so people don’t feel it.

According to data from the Department of Health, Vermonters in the 18-to-49 age group were least likely to get the flu shot. Flu season peaks in the winter and can last as long as May.

Click here for more on the flu from the Health Department.