UVA Health sees decrease in flu vaccine interest, while Blue Ridge Health District sees increase

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 10:07 AM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - It’s prime time for flu season and experts say it’s not too late to get the flu shot.

The Virginia Department of Health says there have been almost 25,000 reported flu cases in Virginia during the 2022-2023 flu season. Despite this, UVA Health says it’s seen the demand for the flu vaccine decrease over the past few years.

Through the week of January 30, UVA Health says it has given out just shy of 42,800 vaccines at all of its locations combined.

“UVA offers flu vaccines at a variety of different sites. So most of the ambulatory or outpatient clinics, you can get one from your UVA doctor’s office, but then we also offer them for all UVA employees and that’s a significant number of people that comes through our employee health department,” UVA Health Director of Ambulatory Pharmacy Justin Vesser said.

Vesser says he’s seen a decrease in the demand for the flu vaccine.

“This has been an unusual flu season, as have all flu seasons since COVID, because the need for COVID vaccines and fear of COVID has far outstripped the normal, yearly expectations about the flu,” he said.

For the 2021-2022 flu season, UVA Health says it gave out 44,920 vaccines. For the 2020-2021 flu season, that number was closer to 49,000. For the 2019-2020 season, its demand topped 50,000 vaccines.

“It’s just smart healthcare, smart taking care of yourself to get a flu shot for everybody in your family who is more than six months of age, and so I think that has brought more people to the table for a flu shot,” Vesser said.

The Blue Ridge Health District says its trends are the going in the opposite direction. This flu season it’s given out 910 vaccines. Last year it gave out 420 vaccines.

“This year we had great support from some of our COVID nurses and our COVID team in reaching out to the community and doing more community based vaccination efforts,” BRHD’s Public Health Nurse Supervisor and Immunization Action Plan Coordinator Hope Peritz said.

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