The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
125k flu vaccines given to Connecticut children so far
More than 125,000 flu doses have been given out to people under 18 in Connecticut so far this year, according to state data.
“So far in 2021 we have distributed 125,840 flu doses compared to 155,730 at the same point in 2020,” DPH spokesman Chris Boyle said by email.
That is on par, Boyle said, with last year. “We are still very early in the flu distribution process,” Boyle said.
“We are confident that by the end of the flu season in the spring, our distribution numbers will be consistent with past years,” he said.
It’s so early in the season, in fact, that adult flu vaccination data is not yet available. Pediatric vaccinations, however, are distributed through the Connecticut Vaccine Program, so those inoculations can be tracked.
“Information on 19 years of age and older comes from (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) data collection at various points during the influenza season and since flu data collection does not start until October, no data from CDC is currently available,” Boyle said.
The number of distributed flu vaccines can vary significantly due to “a variety of factors,” Boyle said. One factor is how many vaccines doctors are provided.
Boyle said there was “a renewed focus by our program to ensure that providers are only ordering enough flu doses to meet their current office needs as opposed to in years past where some providers would order enough flu doses for the entire flu season.”
Scott Roberts, associate medical director for infection prevention at Yale New Haven Hospital, said he had little concern over conflicts between the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine.
“A common question that comes up is can you get both vaccines at the same time,” he said. “It does appear that yes, you can.”
The FDA is expected to rule soon on allowing children aged 5 to 11 to get vaccinated against COVID, and Roberts said vaccine providers are hoping to get both vaccines done at the same time.
“We're seeing if we can bundle those two vaccines into the same visits,” he said. “We definitely don't need added dangers out there right now, especially with COVID circulating. We don't need a second virus circulating that's going to increase hospitalizations, worsen patient outcomes. So we are actively working to communicate a flu vaccine strategy.”
Connecticut, like much of the country, has seen few to no confirmed cases of flu this year.
“Connecticut's had only a very small handful of cases,” Roberts said.
Last year, too, was largely flu-free — owing, experts said, to increased use of masks, better hygiene and social distancing. Roberts, among other public health experts, had predicted a bad flu season this year.
“I would have predicted a very bad flu season this year,” he said. “But my predictions have been wrong before. “So, we'll see. But I think, right now, I'm cautiously optimistic, since it's still very low.”