New Mexico is just coming out of a “triple-demic,” and on the heels of a worldwide pandemic that was a time of some of the worst health in a century. Respiratory viruses peaked last fall and this winter, with the triple threat of COVID-19, the RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and the flu.
As a chief medical officer and a family doctor, I know we can count ourselves lucky that despite child deaths across the country, New Mexico did not have one child fatality from the flu. That is because we had good participation for flu shots.
However, the situation was a challenging one for our medical practitioners this past season as hospitals filled, yet again, over licensed bed capacity. We should be thankful that with both flu shots and COVID vaccines, our state, its health care workers and its people rose to the occasion.
There is still time to get your flu shot, which can be easily obtained at your local clinic or pharmacy, if you have not done so already. One silver lining of COVID is that you can now get a flu shot and other vaccinations easily and conveniently all over the state and in many different locations.
Of note, this year’s flu vaccine is a good one based on recently published data. If you are planning a spring break trip, a big family gathering or you are traveling, and you have not gotten a flu shot, it is not too late.
There seems to be some vaccine fatigue, and that is understandable.
However, I urge you to get your shots next flu season and make it part of your annual regimen. Flu shots save lives, and that may have gotten lost in the COVID emergency.
There may or may not be a COVID shot for next year; that is yet to be determined, but there will be a flu shot, and I urge you to get it to protect yourself and your loved ones. We have turned the corner for this flu season, but next year’s flu season is just around the bend.
Jennifer K. Phillips, MD
Family Physician in New Mexico