Push for flu shots rises after decline during pandemic

After years of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, doctors don't want people to forget about the annual flu shot.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 8:25 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - After years of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, doctors don’t want people to forget about the annual flu shot.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Johnson County and Iowa City Hospice wanted to make sure they gave people in the area every opportunity to get the flu shot. Last year they saw remarkably low rates of vaccinations, administering a little more than 3500 flu vaccines by December of 2021; down 500 doses from 2020.

“That was around the time that the booster became available for the COVID-19 vaccine. And so I think a lot of people at that time were focused on getting that booster shot,” Colette Hartley, VNA/Iowa City Hospice Community Program Coordinator, said.

Dr. Tony Myers, medical director at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, said the national rates are declining among the younger population.

“People are worried that that’s vaccine hesitancy due to COVID. I think it’s probably due to a combination of things, but it’s probably more likely that there was just so little flu that people weren’t going out and getting vaccinated last year,” Myers said.

That’s why VNA and Iowa City Hospice are securing even more clinics than usual. Only now, the challenge is getting the word out. Fliers, online information, and word-of-mouth are the key ways they say they can get those vaccination rates back up this year.

“Right now we have a total of 65 clinics scheduled,” Hartley said. “It’s not a matter of not a lot of places doing vaccinations. It’s just trying to get the word out to the public that they are available and they’re at convenient locations.”