Ohio flu activity ‘very high,’ state says; hospitalizations exceed five-year average

Older adults qualify for additional COVID vaccine shot, CDC says.

Influenza activity is “very high” in Ohio, the most recent state data shows, and flu-related hospitalizations are exceeding previous years.

“Hospitalizations are higher than the five-year average, and we’re still in the middle of the cold and flu season,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information manager at Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County.

There were 726 flu-related hospitalizations in Ohio in the most recent week of data, according to the Ohio Department of Health. This is almost a 15% increase over the previous week.

Approximately 8% of outpatient visits in the state were due to flu-like symptoms, ODH said.

The five-year average for flu-related hospitalizations in Ohio at this time of the year is 543 hospitalizations.

“It’s still not too late to get your flu shot,” Suffoletto said.

In the Dayton region, Montgomery County has the highest total number of flu-related hospitalizations for this flu season with 475 hospitalizations, or 8% of all flu-related hospitalizations in the state, according to ODH.

Montgomery County is followed by Butler and Warren counties with 194 and 108 hospitalizations, respectively. Greene and Miami counties have had 71 and 70 flu-related hospitalizations.

The Clark County Combined Health District reported 13 hospitalized flu cases last week in Clark County and 85 flu-related hospitalizations this season in its latest report.

While flu-related illness and hospitalizations are increasing, COVID-related visits to the emergency room, hospitalizations, and deaths are trending downward nationally.

ER visits for COVID are down 14.6% in the most recent week, according to the Centers for Disease Control. COVID hospitalizations and deaths are down 10.3% and 8.7%, respectively.

Adults ages 65 years and older now qualify to receive an additional updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine dose, the CDC says. This is due to the increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in older adults, along with the currently available data on vaccine effectiveness.

“Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older. An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, CDC director.

The CDC recently updated its recommendations when people have a respiratory illness, lifting COVID isolation guidelines.

When people get sick with a respiratory virus, the updated guidance recommends they stay home and away from others. The recommendations for people with COVID or the flu suggest returning to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, symptoms are improving overall, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without use of a fever-reducing medication.

“We still must use the commonsense solutions we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness from respiratory viruses—this includes vaccination, treatment, and staying home when we get sick,” Cohen said.

For people with COVID and the flu, treatment is available and can lessen symptoms and lower the risk of severe illness.

While people don’t have to isolate for five days, the CDC still recommends five additional days of interventions―including masking, testing, distancing, improved air quality, hygiene, and/or testing―to reduce harm during later stages of illness, especially to protect people at higher risk of severe illness.

About the Author