Central Ohio doctor anticipates high flu cases this season

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Black and brown communities especially hard, and with flu season coming up, a group of medical experts is doing its part to help them stay healthy.

Family Medicine Physician Dr. Aaron Clark said he suspects central Ohio will be dealing with more flu cases in the next coming months, especially as people have been easing up on masking up.

Last year, he says Ohio State Wexner Medical Center worked to address some of the health disparities in the community. In its research, the study found one of the reasons many Black and brown people weren’t getting flu shots was because of the location.

“One of the things we did earlier in the project is reach out to community groups, including our own community groups for our own patients, and then we tried to be very culturally appropriate in addressing those,” Clark said.

The research showed that nationally, about 51 percent of white people got their flu shot last year while 38 percent were people of color. That is why last year, Wexner Medical Center had mobile clinics, drive-thrus, and community events to help educate people about why they needed to roll up their sleeves.

“Our patients of color also experience disparities of health outcomes in terms of life expectancy decreased, diabetes, and hypertension,” Clark said.

This year, he’s hoping to bring back some of those same efforts, especially with hospitals running out of bed space due to COVID-19 cases and other illnesses.

“If I look at what’s happening in children with RSV as kind of a predictor of what happens in the community, I think we’re going to start seeing strep throat come back,” Clark said. “RSV is already coming through. We will see these communicable diseases come back.”

He wants to remind people on top of getting a flu shot to wash their hands, maintain social distancing, and not to go to school or work if they’re feeling sick.

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center will be having a free COVID-19 and Flu Blitz on Oct. 2, but are still in the early stages of planning the event.

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