U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined officials from Gillette Children's Sunday (11/15/20) to urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure the influenza vaccine is available.
According to a statement released by Klobuchar’s office, recent reports indicate that some regions of the country have experienced shortages of influenza vaccines, including some towns in Minnesota.
Public health experts, including those at Gillette, are warning about what they call a possible “dual surge” of illness as the influenza season collides into the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a press conference held on the main St. Paul campus of Gillette, Klobuchar was joined by Gillette president and CEO Barbara Joers and Associate Medical Director of Pediatrics, Madeleine Gagnon, MD, to talk about the critical importance of making sure people have access to the influenza vaccine.
“It’s especially important that we minimize transmission of the flu this year because a severe flu season would have a devastating impact on the lives of Americans and public health systems that are already coping with surging coronavirus cases,” Klobuchar says.
Gagnon says influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. “The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar and it is crucial for people to get proper testing and a diagnosis so health providers can give the correct supportive care,” Gagnon says.
For months Gagnon has been calling for increased measures to keep every person safe from influenza. “It’s very crucial for children to be vaccinated against influenza,” Gagnon says. “With the flu and COVID-19 in our environment this is a very serious problem and we must take measures to keep ourselves and our children safe.”
Gagnon adds that it is especially important for children with underlying lung problems and low muscle tone to be vaccinated. “These children have an even more challenging time fighting the flu,” Gagnon says.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the CDC recommend everyone six months of age or older get a flu shot every year.
Gillette Children's is offering free influenza vaccines for patients and family members during clinic visits. If you’d like to receive a flu vaccine please talk to a Gillette health provider during your appointment.
The full text of Senator Klobuchar’s letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield can be found here.
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