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UCHealth: Flu cases may be underreported due to nationwide shortage of testing

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:46 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A UCHealth doctor predicts flu cases may be underreported due to the nationwide shortage of flu testing.

11 News spoke with UCHealth about how this flu season is going. Last year, due to mask mandates and school closures, Colorado only had about 34 flu hospitalizations in the entire season. So far this year, Colorado has about 228 reported flu hospitalizations.

“Last year was crazy. This year looks to be even crazier in just a different kind of way,” said Dr. Ian Tullberg of UCHealth. “It looks like it’s going to be a pretty busy, crazy flu and COVID type of year.”

UCHealth said due to the nationwide supply chain issues and shortage of flu testing, flu cases may be underreported this season. However, UCHealth tells 11 News they are getting more tests into their clinics recently. The omicron variant of COVID-19 is the dominant respiratory virus UCHealth is seeing.

“One of our busiest urgent care clinics saw 239 people. I would estimate that about 90% of those were respiratory. We couldn’t test one of them for the flu, and that doesn’t go towards the numbers,” said Tullberg.

UCHealth said people who test negative for COVID-19 at clinics are presumptively being treated for the flu. However, patients that are admitted into the hospital or emergency departments do get tested for the flu.

“We are seeing combinations of things, whether it be flu and strep, flu and COVID, COVID and strep. We are seeing those, and unfortunately it’s making a difficult thing more difficult,” said Tullberg.

The good news is, UCHealth has had very few flu hospitalizations in the Pikes Peak region so far this season.

Doctors recommend you get both the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine and booster, as you can get both at the same time. Also, doctors still encourage mask wearing and hand washing.

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