For Immediate Release

Nov. 10, 2022


John Lyon
Strategic Communications Manager


LITTLE ROCK ― With the current flu season off to an early and aggressive start, the board of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement is urging Arkansans to get the flu vaccine this week to be protected before gathering with loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The ACHI Health Policy Board voted Thursday to issue a call for Arkansans to get vaccinated now so that the upcoming holiday does not exacerbate an already accelerated flu season.

“We’re seeing a higher level of flu activity, both in cases and hospitalizations, than we’ve seen this early in the flu season in a long time,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “It can take a couple of weeks to receive maximum protection from a vaccination, and Thanksgiving is two weeks away, so please do not delay. Get your shot now.”

Thompson also recommended that anyone who has not yet received the updated COVID-19 booster vaccine, which targets both the original strain of the virus and the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, do so as soon as possible.

“Let’s spread cheer, not the flu, for the holidays,” he said.

More information about the flu:

WHAT IT IS: Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, death. It is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Flu viruses typically circulate during the fall and winter during what is known as flu season.

HOW TO KNOW IT IS FLU: People who have flu often experience some or all of these symptoms: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. After evaluating you, your doctor may choose to test you or diagnose you without a test.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THIS FLU SEASON: The flu has ramped up early this year. U.S. flu hospitalizations are higher than they have been at this point in the flu season in more than a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Arkansas, the flu intensity level is classified as “very high.” The Arkansas Department of Health reported that as of Saturday, nine flu deaths had been reported in the state this season, five of them in the preceding seven days. The early start of the flu season is especially concerning because health care providers are also responding to a surge in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and continuing to treat cases of COVID-19.

ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development. See more at