More Clark County residents are going to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms than the past five-year average, according to data from the Clark County Combined Health District, but fewer residents are being hospitalized.
The data kept by the CCCHD also shows there is typically a slight increase in flu hospitalizations in the beginning of February and health officials are warning residents to take precautions.
“Right now we are in widespread activity for influenza across Ohio,” health commissioner Charles Patterson said. “If we look across the nation, Ohio is one of many states that does have widespread flu activity and it’s not too late for people to get a flu shot.”
The flu targets everyone, but the youngest and people over the age of 65 have a larger threat of being hospitalized, said Clark County Combined Health District Epidemiologist Anna Jean Petroff.
“Twenty-seven percent of people hospitalized are 65 to 79 years old,” she said.
Meanwhile, 19 percent of Clark County residents hospitalized were 5 years old or younger, according to the data.
And while the flu is still serious in the county, this year’s numbers are lower than last years.
“At this time of this report, we had 27 cases of influenza hospitalizations,” Petroff said. “Last year, that number was a lot higher. Last year was a big year.”
Patterson said the health district began to see more flu hospitalizations around the holiday season, which is common. The trend is expected to last throughout the winter, he said.
“We are continuing to see widespread flu activity throughout the first three weeks of January,” Patterson said. “We expect this to continue over the next few weeks hoping that it will wane sooner rather than later.”
Residents are still encouraged to get their flu shot if they haven’t already.
“The strain we are seeing circulating our community is very well matched to the flu shot,” he said. “We still encourage people to get those flu shots and there is still time to protect yourself.”
Residents contacted the Springfield News-Sun this week wondering if the county was out of flu shots because their physician told them they didn’t have any at their office. Patterson said there are plenty of flu vaccines left and available.
“If your physician doesn’t have the flu vaccine that probably means they ordered it for the season and used the ones they have,” he said. “It’s tough to reorder because if you end up not giving those you end up eating the cost of those vaccines.
“But I would tell you there is plenty more vaccine available,” Patterson said.
Vaccines are available at pharmacies, doctors offices and local health districts, Patterson said.
The flu is an upper repository illness and symptoms include pressure in your head and chest, Patterson said, along with a high fever. Vomiting can occur too.
If someone gets sick, the best thing they can do is stay home and tend to their health.
“If you cough or sneeze, you can easily spread that to other individuals,” Patterson said. “If you are unable to control the symptoms and you have shortness of breath, you need to follow up with your physician immediately.”
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