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 among the state’s minority communities.
Health officials recommend flu vaccinations every year, but particularly this year because hospitals are under stress from the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Tuesday, there were 1,556 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Wisconsin. The state has had more than 418,000 confirmed cases and 3,806 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started.
The number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations has been trending downward since it hit a high in mid-November. However, Wisconsin’s 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 flu vaccination rates in the state and therefore its highest rates of flu infection, said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm.
The campaign dubbed “Be an InFLUencer” is running as broadcast and digital ads, and a website launched as part of the campaign includes a link for people to find places to get flu vaccines.
Tom Haupt, the flu 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.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers announced that the Army will deploy about 45 medical personnel to work in Wisconsin hospitals. They will support Marshfield Medical Center facilities in Marshfield, Eau Claire, Beaver Dam and Rice Lake. The system has been using volunteers but still can’t keep up with the number of patients, Evers’ office said.