Doctors urge people to get flu vaccine as cases skyrocket

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- Alarming new numbers show the flu is hitting Wisconsin hard, and as the flu vaccine need grows, health officials are getting more creative.

10 times as many children tested positive this flu season compared to last year, according to UW-Health. 821 kids have tested positive for the flu between October and February. 76 kids tested positive during the same time frame last year, according to UW-Health.

Health officials said the best defense is to get vaccinated.

Flu season is still going strong, and based on current statistics it's hitting harder than previous years.

"It's really hard to predict how each person will act once the virus comes down," Joseph McBride, UW-Health Infectious Disease Doctor said.

He said flu rates are higher this year because the virus can change.

"Really hard to predict what strains will be circulating and how dangerous each strain is going to be," McBride said.

He said the illness is cruel because it attacks the most vulnerable.

"The young children older adults, people with chronic illnesses," McBride said.

Mcbride said a flu shot can decrease symptoms and keep you out the hospital.

"Instead of being hospitalized, you're out for a week. The symptoms are milder with the help of an influenza vaccine," he said.

As the need for the vaccine in the community grows, health officials are getting creative.

"We came up with the idea of giving flu vaccinations right here in the grocery store," Thad Schumacher, Fitchburg Family Pharmacy Owner said.

Luna's Grocery is stocked with diverse food options from Jarritos soda to bags of beans and rice.

For the first time, Schumacher set up shop in the store giving customers the option to add a flu vaccine to their shopping list.

"Our setup was a little unique. We had the bread stacked up in a pile as a little curtain so people could have privacy during their flu vaccine," he said.

It's all about creating a more accessible way for community members to get the vaccine and stay healthy

"We had people go and get their family members and bring them back so it was a good thing," he said. "It's important that we increase our vaccination rates in the community."

The pharmacist said there could be another clinic at Luna’s Grocery in the future.

Medical experts said it's not too late to get a flu shot, and anyone over 6 months can get vaccinated.