UMN Experts: Influenza season and call for vaccinations

Michael Osterholm, Susan Kline, David Golden

With new data out today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are reports that this influenza season is on track to be among the worst the United States has seen in 15 years. It follows news from the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday that the flu is still considered widespread in the state of Minnesota.

University of Minnesota experts Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Dr. Susan Kline with the Medical School and David Golden with Boynton Health weigh in on this particularly potent flu season.  

Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH

“This year's flu season is putting tremendous stress on hospitals and healthcare delivery teams. And it's nothing compared to the damage a moderate to severe influenza pandemic will inflict.

It's a poignant reminder that we need a completely revamped flu vaccine, one that will protect against a wide range of flu viruses, including potential pandemic strains, and that protection will last for years. Our current vaccines are based on 1940s research, and, sadly, developing a game-changing universal flu vaccine doesn't appear to be a priority for world governments, the pharmaceutical industry or philanthropic organizations.

We need a Manhattan Project-like effort to secure these critical vaccines, and it needs to be fully funded.”

Michael Osterholm is an internationally recognized expert in infectious disease epidemiology. He is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Regents Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health, and professor in the Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Contact information:
Michael Osterholm
Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)

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Susan Kline, MD, MPH

"This is a season that rivals some of the more active flu seasons we’ve seen in the last five or six years. Right now, we are in the peak of it. I encourage all my patients to be vaccinated. While some may hesitate to get the vaccination because they think it will cause them to get sick, remember: there are no live viruses in the injectable influenza vaccine.”

Dr. Susan Kline, MD, MPH, is an associate professor of medicine within the University of Minnesota’s Medical School’s Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine. She also serves as the Medical Director of Infection Control at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Contact information:
Krystle Barbour
Public Relations Coordinator, Medical School
612-626-2767 (office)
414-331-0311 (cell)

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David Golden, University of Minnesota’s Boynton Health

"Getting a flu shot helps reduce the chance of you becoming infected with influenza. It also helps prevent others from getting the flu by slowing down transmission from person to person. Being vaccinated not only protects yourself, but others around you. When we surveyed students in 2015, more than 60% told us they got their flu shot. The higher that number goes, the better protected the Twin Cities campus is against the flu. Do it for the herd and get vaccinated!"

David Golden is the director of Public Health and Communications at Boynton Health on the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus. Boynton Health offers a wide variety of public health and health promotion programs and health care services. Among those services are ongoing flu shot clinics that offer influenza vaccinations with no out-of-pocket cost to eligible University students, staff, faculty, retirees and their dependents. To find out more, click here.

Contact information:
612-626-6738 (office)
651-303-9852 (cell)

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