DAVENPORT, Iowa — When the COVID-19 pandemic rolled in last year, preventative measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus had a side effect that was unexpected for some: Seasonal influenza cases "disappeared" in the U.S., according to Senior Communications Specialist for Genesis Health Craig Cooper.
"Health experts believe masking, social distancing, frequent hand washing, less interaction between school students and high flu vaccination rates were all factors in the huge drop in flu cases nationally," Community Health Manager for Genesis Visiting Nurses Michele Cullen said.
Genesis Health's Flu-Free Quad Cities effort will return this 2021-2022 flu season with the goal of keeping these low flu case numbers in the region.
Influenza (or the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and older people and younger children are at a heightened risk of serious flu complications.
As of the week of Sept. 27, the portion of patient visits for influenza-like illness remained below the baseline of 2.6% in the U.S., and flu tests reported for both Influenza A or B remained below a .05% positivity rate, according to the CDC.
"There were very few hospitalizations at Genesis because of the flu," Cullen said. "We hope we can make this a trend in our region with the impact of Flu-Free Quad Cities."
Flu-Free Quad Cities, since its founding in 2003, has provided free flu shots to students and staff at elementary schools throughout the area. In its history, the cause has given more than 100,000 free flu vaccinations.
Genesis - with financial support from the Quad Cities River Bandits and GreenState Credit Union - will host four family-friendly vaccination events this month:
- Walk-in flu shot clinics Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 from 3-6 p.m. at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline.
- Drive-thru flu shot clinic
Oct. 13*and Oct. 27 from 3-6 p.m. at Brady Street Stadium in Davenport.
*The Oct. 13 clinic was postponed to Oct. 20 due to weather
Genesis said it hopes to provide 10,000 free flu shots to elementary students during this flu season. Give a donation to Flu-Free QC and help school-aged children get vaccinated here. The cost of one child's flu shot is $25.