Lincoln, NE (March 17, 2022)  Influenza is now side by side with covid 19 as a health concern in this area. Dr. Darcy Jones of CHI Health told reporters today that normally flu cases begin to decline by the end of February each year….but not this year.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in influenza numbers, going back to about the first week of February, and that number does continue to increase every week.”

Most people associate this time of year with “flu season”, but Dr. Jones says it’s coming later than usual.

“Typically, especially before Covid, we would definitely be seeing a trend downward by the middle of March, as opposed to seeing this continued uptick of cases.”

The trend is definitely later this year, she said.

“Typically the flu season will be at its peak about January, maybe into February, a little bit, but usually by March the numbers are really decreasing, so it’s unusual to see an uptick this late into the season.”

Jones said that this year’s flu season might simply be late, in part, because of the end of Covid 19 preventative measures.

“Mask ordinances have gone away, people have been feeling more free to gather, they certainly aren’t wearing their masks any more because Covid is less of a concern.”

This year’s flu vaccine has not been particularly effective in preventing cases, she said, probably because of the small number of cases last year and the lack of data as to which strain might be predominant this year.  Also, she said, many people may have forgotten to get a flu shot because of the concentration on Covid-19 vaccines.

The current strain that is being confirmed by testing most frequently is Influenza “A”, she said, adding that it’s hitting patients hard with upper respiratory symptoms.

” They just look like they’re ready to fall asleep in their chairs.  You feel pretty miserable.  Sometimes you’re very achy, kids especially more than adults, and they may have some of the G.I. symptoms too, so you might have vomiting and diarrhea, but you just feel miserable.”

Jones said while the vaccine has not been particularly effective in preventing illness all together, it is still helpful in keeping infections from becoming serious.  She said it’s not too late to get a flu shot yet this year.