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COVID vaccine hesitancy may be affecting flu vaccination rate, state health officials say

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Michigan health officials are worried that fewer people are getting vaccinated against the flu this year than last.
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National Institutes of Health

Michigan health officials have set a goal of 4 million flu vaccinations in the state this flu season. With the 2021-2022 flu season around the corner, health officials said they are working to make the vaccines as accessible as possible.

However, despite a historically low flu season in 2020, health officials are concerned this year may be different.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said she’s not impressed by flu vaccination rates this year.

“We are seeing fewer people taking the flu vaccine this year compared to last year,” she said.

Bagdasarian said state data show that about 1 million flu vaccines have been administered this season – less than half of the 2.5 million doses that were in arms at this time last year.

The state medical executive said the disparity is likely due to pandemic fatigue and the proliferation of misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines.

If flu cases rise before the fall COVID-19 surge drops off in Michigan, Bagdasarian said, it will put additional strain on hospitals that are already struggling to care for their current patients.

Bagdasarian added that last year’s low number of flu cases was made possible due to pandemic measures such as masking and social distancing that are less common this year.

Health officials said that the flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be taken together, and they’re encouraging Michigan residents to get both.