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Wisconsin doctors and pharmacists urging flu shots amid early spike in cases

Dr. Margolis said the flu hitting early with RSV and coinciding with COVID-19 is challenging hospital staff and putting people of all ages at risk.
Flu Vaccine
Posted at 4:18 PM, Dec 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-03 17:18:50-05

Milwaukee-area doctors are admittedly anxious over low flu vaccination rates as cases spike earlier than usual.

"I'm nervous about our flu season. Not just me. I think all physicians throughout the country are nervous going into flu season right now because of the timing of it," said Dr. Dave Margolis, interim Pediatrician in Chief at Children’s Wisconsin.

Dr. Margolis noted that the flu hitting early with RSV and coinciding with COVID-19 is challenging hospital staff and putting people of all ages at risk.

"We're vulnerable. We're a vulnerable society when we have people that aren't vaccinated," Dr. Margolis said.

Children's Wisconsin has been admitting a daily average of nine flu patients during the week of November 22-28. That is three times higher than the previous week and nine times higher than the week before that.

"This is impacting our nursing staff, our physician staff, the people that clean the rooms, the people that deliver the food, our security teams. And we're all still here for our kids," Dr. Margolis said.

With flu numbers rapidly rising earlier than in past years, the medical community is urging adults and children to get their flu shot right away, and they are pointing to pharmacies as an easy way to get it done.

State data showed flu vaccines are down about 166,660 compared to this time last year.

Dr. Hashim Zaibak at Hayat Pharmacy believes vaccine fatigue is playing a part. He noted at their pharmacy the number of people getting their flu shot in November is down 52% compared to last year.

"But the virus doesn’t take time off. So we’re getting a lot of cases and we do see a lot of cases a lot of children coming in with a prescription for Tamiflu. We’ve seen a significant spike in Tamiflu prescriptions," Dr. Zaibak said.

Dr. Zaibak says their Layton Avenues location dispenses about four to five Tamiful prescriptions daily. Typically, in the past, they issued about one of these prescriptions daily even before the pandemic.

He joined doctors in stressing the need to get an updated flu shot.

"Come get vaccinated especially before the holidays. The last thing you wanna do in the holidays and spend it in the urgent care or emergency room," Dr. Zaibak said.

Many pharmacies are open all week and take walk-ins for flu shots. Patients are encouraged to call ahead for details.