Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland Department of Health launched the statewide “Fight the Flu” campaign, urging residents to get the influenza vaccine.
The multimedia campaign announced on Tuesday will utilize television and social media, according to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH).
“Getting vaccinated for the flu every year is important, but this year it’s critical,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Make sure you make time to get your flu shot — it’s a simple, safe and effective way to help protect yourself, your loved ones and the most vulnerable in your community from the flu.”
During last year’s flu season, almost 4,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 82 influenza-associated deaths were reported to the MDH. Six of the deaths were individuals under the age of 18.
Health experts are concerned that flu season and the continued impact of COVID-19 will prove to be a challenging combination for hospitals and medical workers to keep up with. Some flu symptoms–like fever, coughing, and more–are shared with COVID-19, making it difficult to determine without proper testing.
“Though we do not yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, the flu vaccine is widely available,” said MDH Acting Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan.
According to the MDH, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. Like with COVID-19, certain individuals are at a higher risk for severe influenza complications: children six months through five years old, people over 50 years old, and people with underlying health conditions.
Marylanders can visit www.marylandvax.org to find free public clinics near them for flu vaccinations.