Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, director of medical immunizations with the Arkansas Department of Health, used Thursday’s (Aug. 6) COVID-19 briefing to again urge Arkansans to get flu vaccination shots when they become available in September.
Dillaha said beginning Sept. 21, the flu shot will be available at drive-thru areas at Arkansas Department of Health clinic locations. She also said the flu shot will be available the following week at public schools, and could be available prior to Sept. 21 at clinics and pharmacies. She cited two primary reasons people should get a flu shot.
“You don’t want to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. The second reason is, is because flu vaccination can go a long way to keeping people out of the hospital, and we want to decrease the number of hospitalizations in Arkansas as much as possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dillaha said.
She also said there is a misconception that the vaccine either works 100% or not at all. Dillaha said about half who receive a vaccine will not get sick or not get sick enough to see a doctor. Those who do get sick have a “running head start to fight the flu” if they have had the vaccine because it allows the immune system to respond quicker.
“Sometimes that’s enough to keep people completely well and not getting any flu symptoms at all. Other times it’s enough to keep people from having to go to the hospital, even though they do get the flu. And in some cases it’s enough to keep people alive,” she said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were between 39 million and 56 million flu illnesses in the U.S. between Oct. 1 2019 and April 4, 2020. During that period, there were 410,000 to 740,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 to 62,000 deaths attributed to the flu.
Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 47,028 on Thursday, up from 46,293 on Wednesday. Of the 735 new cases, 44 were from correctional facilities. There are 6,958 active cases. The number of deaths rose from 508 to 515. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 514 on Thursday, down from 516 on Wednesday. There are 111 patients on ventilators, up from 106 on Wednesday. There are 39,555 cumulative recovered cases.
The top six counties with new community cases reported were: Pulaski (73), Craighead (69), Sebastian (62), Poinsett (27), and Benton and Garland with 24 each. The counties accounted for 40.4% of the 691 new community cases reported Thursday.
As of Wednesday at 1 p.m., there were 4,842,318 U.S. cases and 158,606 deaths. Globally, there were 18,875,773 cases and 708,941 deaths.
With Gov. Asa Hutchinson attending a National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C., Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero conducted Thursday’s daily briefing.