HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health stressed the importance Tuesday of flu vaccinations ahead of the upcoming winter season. Health professionals say last year’s flu season was mild thanks in part to masking and social distancing, but local cases of the flu are already popping up.

Health officials say an increase in cases during the COVID-19 pandemic could cause added strain for local hospitals.

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“In a worst-case situation with a highly transmissible flu strain dominating and low influenza vaccination uptake, University of Pittsburg Graduate School of Public Health predictive models indicate the potential for up to 500,000 more flu hospitalizations this winter compared to a normal season,” UPMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Goldman said. “Vaccinating as many people as possible will be key to avoiding this scenario.

For more information on the flu, and where to schedule your vaccination, click here.

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