Health experts urge people to get flu vaccine

MADISON, Wis (WMTV) -- Public Health Madison and Dane County Health experts said flu season is here, and it's best to get the vaccine now to stay ahead of the game.

The Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities Vaccination Program is headed to Bridgeview Elementary on Monday, October 14th. (Photo provided by MGN, Pixaby, ZaldyImg / Flickr / CC BY 2.0.)

Health officials said in 2018’s flu season, 223 people were hospitalized in Dane County. In 2017, there were 695 hospitalizations.

UW-Madison health officials are working to shrink these numbers by offering free flu shots to students. So far, over 8,100 students took a shot at the vaccine.

Molly Abrams’, UW sophomore, schedule is normally packed with being a student.

"I am in a sorority so I do a lot of sorority stuff. I also work as a research assistant at a lab in the psychiatric building here,” she said.

But today, she's taking the time to give the flu vaccine a shot.

"Last year I got really sick with the flu twice and I had to go to urgent care both times," she said.

Health experts said while the vaccine is not 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, it can reduce how sick you get and your chances of being hospitalized.

"If you look at national numbers, this age group is one of the least vaccinated against influenza. But we've made it pretty easy for students going out to places on campus and having a walk-in clinic here," Bill Kinsey, UW-Madison Health Services Medical Director said.

Getting a flu shot only takes a couple seconds, and health experts said it's not only effective, but it's safe.

"It does a really good job of preventing illness, hospitalizations and deaths from the flu in our community. It's something that's thoroughly studied year after year," Sarah Hughes, Public Health Madison and Dane County Immunization Coordinator said.

Dance County Public Health officials said it's best for anyone six months or older to get the vaccine and not only does it help you, but it also lessens the chances of others catching the flu.

"So when more people are able to get vaccinated in our community, we're able to protect everyone around us," Hughes said.