GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — As COVID-19 numbers continue to climb across the Piedmont Triad, Guilford County health officials are worried about the impact the upcoming flu season could have on local health systems.
To allevaite that pressure, the county will spend more than $71,000 to get flu vaccines to individuals who have historically been more susceptible to contract the virus.
Dr. Iulian Vann, the public health director for Guilford County, said while research is still needed, it is very possible for someone to contact both COVID-19 and the flu.
“We know that you can be infected with multiple viruses at the same time that can impact your body,” she explained. “You can have higher risk of ICU, hospitalization and even death.”
For Vann, her biggest concern is the impact an increase in flu hospitalization could have on resources needed for COVID-19 patients in the Triad.
“The flu vaccine is not only to reduce the risk of the flu but to also help conserve those vary valuable resources that are so needed at this time,” she said.
The Guilford County Health Department will begin to hold flu vaccine clinics made readily available to those who face disparities in their communities.
Vann outlined that the individuals who they hope to reach are refugees, minorities, people facing homelessness and senior citizens.
Regarding the flu, these are individuals who, traditionally, are less likely to get the flu shot.
FOX8 spoke with minorities and refugees in Guilford County and asked what disparities their communities faced that prevent them from getting their flu shots.
Alex Ortiz, who grow up in Greensboro, but whose family is from Mexico, explained that some in the minority community are too afraid of the cost without insurance or that the flu isn’t something to worry about.
“They just don’t understand how serious it is,” Alex said.
Meshak Ayile, a refugee from Congo, explained that for refugees, it’s a lack of personal relationship and access to doctors.
“Some [refugees] need a translator and stuff. It’s difficult to get a doctor. To make appointments and stuff. Transportation. It’s all difficult,” Ayile said.
Guilford County health officials hope to address these obstacles with a more aggressive education effort.
The county will bring flu vaccination clinics closer to the zip codes with the highest population of individuals facing disparity.
“In the past and even this year, we are trying to go into health centers. We’re trying to go into churches, in schools to just try and bring the vaccine closer to those communities,” Vann said.
A list of clinic locations and times of operations have not been finalized by the health department.
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