Wisconsin launches campaign to get flu shot to minorities

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FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2018, file photo, a medical assistant at a community health center gives a patient a flu shot in Seattle. U.S. health officials say the flu vaccine has again turned out to be a disappointment. The vaccine didn’t work against a flu bug that popped up halfway through the season. Figures released Thursday, June 27, 2019, show the vaccine was only 29% effective overall. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Wednesday launched an education and awareness campaign designed to help bolster vaccination for the flu in the state’s minority communities.

Health officials have urged getting a flu vaccine this year in light of the COVID-19 outbreak which has stressed hospitals and the health care system.

As of Tuesday, there were 1,556 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Wisconsin. There have been more than 418,000 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide and 3,806 deaths.

The number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations has been trending downward since an all-time high in mid-November. However, the seven-day average of new cases is still more than four times higher than what it was in September.

Communities of color in Wisconsin have traditionally had the lowest vaccination rates in the state and therefore the highest rates of flu, said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm.

The campaign, dubbed “Be an InFLUencer,” includes social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, as well as broadcast and digital ads. A new website launched as part of the campaign also includes a link for people to find places to get the flu vaccine near them.

Tom Haupt, influenza surveillance coordinator for Wisconsin, said the campaign comes at the right time because it’s not too late to get a flu shot to protect yourself and others.

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