Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Although hospitals in Henry and Wayne counties are seeing fewer COVID patients in recent days, virus-related deaths are still being recorded and health workers say they are still feeling the strain.

Thus, local health officials have been urging everyone 6 months and older to get their flu shot in October to help prevent their own dangerous illness and take some of the seasonal burden off health systems.

“As we enter this flu season, it could be like no other,” said Dr. David Jetmore, Wayne County’s health officer, in a news release.

Jetmore noted a significant decrease in flu cases during late 2020 and early 2021 because of mask wearing policies and mandates. Preventive actions such as increased handwashing and cleaning of high-touch surfaces, staying home when sick, and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth also are encouraged again this year.

This year with the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 and the low number of infections of flu last year, Jetmore said it “could culminate into a very bad situation quickly without mitigation factors like those for COVID-19.”

Those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease are especially encouraged to get a flu shot to reduce the risk of serious complications, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Wayne County Health Department is offering flu and COVID-19 vaccines from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays at its office, 100 S. Fifth St., Richmond, and from 4-7 p.m. Mondays.

To help get more kids vaccinated against flu, Henry Community Health has begun offering a flu vaccine clinic from 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays at its pediatric office in Northfield Park, 152 Wittenbraker Ave., New Castle.

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Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.