COVID-19 cases are rising again in Barron County.

According to Barron County Public Health’s weekly report, 267 new cases were reported in the week up to Monday, Nov. 15. That is an increase from 206 cases reported in the previous week.

New cases are generally occurring in younger people—96 of the 267 cases were in people ages 19-39. Those 18 and younger comprised 73 cases, and 63 occurred in people ages 40-59.

Access to the vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is increasing, with public health now offering the vaccine for young children at its office in Barron.

Appointments are required. Visit www.barroncountywi.gov to make an appointment. More appointments will be added based on demand.

“The vaccine being approved for 5- to 11-year-olds is a key step in protecting children from COVID-19” said Health Officer Laura Sauve. “The vaccine is safe and can help prevent your child from getting sick and missing school or activities.”

Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for 5- to 11-year-olds. The vaccine requires two doses given 21 days apart.

Other area vaccine providers are offering the COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds. Visit vaccinefinder.org to find other providers near you.

Barron County Public Health offers walk-in Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for those 12 and up. Booster doses are also available for those eligible. Walk-in hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Booster doses are available to people ages 65 and older, those with underlying health conditions and those who live or work in high-risk settings.

High-risk jobs include first responders like health care workers and police, education staff, food and agriculture workers, manufacturing workers and grocery store workers.

Influenza still a concern

Last year’s precautions against COVID-19 also greatly limited the spread of influenza. But this year could be a different story, according to Wisconsin Department of Health influenza specialist Tom Haupt.

“We are definitely seeing an increase in influenza statewide,” he said.

COVID-19 rates are rising, too.

“If they both become very high incidence, it could be a devastating year for us,” said Haupt.

There have been 29 reported cases as of last week, compared to just seven at this time a year ago. In all, only 100 cases were reported last year. Normally the tally is in the thousands.

“The masking and social distancing helped a lot,” said Haupt. “We’re hoping it’s going to be a mild season, but we have to be prepared and get people vaccinated.”

Flu vaccination rates are lagging this year, at 26 percent, compared to 34 percent a year ago.

Haupt said COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms, so it is important to be vaccinated against both and get tested if you’re feeling sick.

“You really don’t know based on the symptoms,” said Haupt. “Talk with your doctor. If you’re having any kind of complications, you should be tested and find out exactly what you’re dealing with. If it is influenza, there’s antivirals that can shorten the period time and keep you out of the hospital. The big key is vaccination for both.”

Flu shots are available at pharmacies and health care providers.

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