FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 5, 2023
City of Milwaukee Health Department Urges Residents to Get Vaccinated this Flu Season
MILWAUKEE – At this time each year, as the temperature begins to drop and Milwaukee residents head indoors, influenza (flu) and other respiratory illnesses begin to rise. While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact timing of peak flu cases each year, what we do know is that the virus typically circulates heavily in fall and winter months. To protect yourself and your family against the flu, the City of Milwaukee Health Department strongly encourages everyone six months and older to get their flu vaccine this fall.
During the 2022/2023 flu season, 38% of Milwaukee County residents received their flu shot. The immunization goal, set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2023 initiative, is to increase the flu vaccination rate to 70% nationwide. To reach this goal, the City of Milwaukee Health Department provides residents with free flu shots, available without an appointment or proof of insurance, at the Northwest Health Center (7630 W. Mill Road), and Southside Health Center (1639 S. 23rd Street).
Additionally, starting this Saturday, October 7, the City of Milwaukee Health Department will hold COVID-19 and flu vaccine drive-thru clinics at the Southside Health Center and Northwest Health Center. The flu shot will be free and available to everyone 6 months and older, however, the 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccine is only available to eligible individuals, including children (18 and younger) with BadgerCare/Medicaid or uninsured, and adults (19 and older) who are uninsured. Children with private insurance and adults with private or public insurance are able to access COVID-19 vaccines through pharmacies and healthcare providers.
The drive-thru clinics will be open every Saturday during October from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The full schedule is available at milwaukee.gov/CovidVax.
“In many cases, catching the flu can wipe out your energy levels, leaving you feeling drained, achy, and uncomfortable. It can also interfere with work, school, and time with friends and family. But for others, it can be very serious and potentially fatal,” said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Mike Totoraitis. “Getting your annual flu shot is the best way to stay healthy and protect yourself and those around you.”
Prevention is key to protecting ourselves against the flu this season. Recent studies show that getting vaccinated reduces the risk of flu illness by 40-60% among the overall population. While some people who get a flu vaccine still get sick, vaccination can make their illness less severe, reducing overall hospitalization rates and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions during hospitalizations.
The flu vaccine not only keeps you healthy, but it protects those around you, which is especially important for people at higher risk for serious complications, including:
- Pregnant people
- Young children
- People 65 years and older, especially those living in group settings
- People with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease
In addition to getting the flu vaccine, it’s important to keep yourself, your family, and others around you healthy by taking a few steps:
- Regularly cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean surfaces that may be contaminated with flu viruses.
These everyday actions can help reduce your chances of getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others if you are sick.
While flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by two different viruses and require two different vaccines. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Both vaccines are safe, effective, and able to be administered at the same time. Save time by getting the flu shot and the 2023/2024 COVID-19 vaccine together.
In addition to the Milwaukee Health Department Clinics, many other pharmacies, healthcare providers, and local health departments also have flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines. Visit vaccines.gov, HealthyMKE.com, or contact your local health department to find an immunization clinic near you.