NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As Covid mandates begin to relax, and cases go down, the Department of Health says they’re seeing a late-season spike in another virus. “Typically around this time what we’d expect is for those rates to be declining,” said Dr. Meghan Brett, an Epidemiologist at UNMH. But Brett explains that’s not the case with the flu this year.

As Covid mandates begin to relax, and cases go down, the Department of Health says they’re seeing a late season spike in another virus. “Typically around this time what we’d expect is for those rates to be declining,” said Dr. Meghan Brett, an Epidemiologist at UNMH. But Brett explains that’s not the case with the flu this year.

“What we’ve seen since early February is the rates of influenza have risen,” Dr. Brett explained. Dr. Brett says a typical flu season starts about September, and hits its peak in January or February. According to the Department of Health, in late April nearly six percent of hospital visits were flu-related.


Story continues below


“Highly unusual to have this much flu at this time of the year,” Dr. Brett explained. She says there’s a few things that could be contributing to the late rise in cases, including the fact that most people are no longer wearing masks. Dr. Brett says the effectiveness of this years flu vaccine also plays a role.

“The vaccine effectivness this year was low,” Dr. Brett said. “That means the vaccine strain didn’t match what’s circulating,” she explained. “You get less protection than a regular flu vaccine,” she told KRQE News 13.

Dr. Brett says she thinks the flu could linger for at least a couple more months, and she encourages everyone, if they haven’t already, to get the flu vaccine. She says while the spike in cases is high and unusual for this time of year, the number of flu-related hospitalizations are low.