OHIO VALLEY — Despite excessive advertising for vaccinations, the number of flu cases and flu related symptoms have recently increased compared to previous flu seasons.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of reported influenza-like illnesses (ILI) have increased and the flu is considered to be widespread in Ohio and West Virginia, as well as many other states.
Although the exact number of flu cases were not available, Diana Riddle, nursing administrator at the Mason County Health Department, stated the number of ILI in Mason County have increased compared to previous flu seasons and since the last week of Dec. 2012, has doubled. Riddle said the health department does call local hospitals once a week for these numbers to see where the flu is circulating throughout the county and to what extent it is present.
According to Tonya McGuire, public health epidemiologist with the Gallia County Health Department, there have been reports of six individuals, ranging from four years to 94 years old, who have been hospitalized for the flu, the first being in Nov. 2012, and the most recent in the beginning of January. When compared to previous flu seasons, it was reported that only one child was hospitalized during the entire 2011-12 flu season and a total of six were hospitalized in the 2010-11 season, the first not being until January of that season.
It was also reported that the CDC follows flu activity on a weekly basis not only during flu season, but year round. As a result of this research, the CDC stated that the number of people seeing their health care provider for ILI in the U.S. has increased in the last four weeks, going from 2.8 percent to 5.6 percent. During last year’s flu season, this number peaked at 2.2 percent.
Riddle also stated the Mason County Health Department still has vaccinations available for both adults and children. As previously reported, Riddle and other health department staff have administered over 2000 doses of the vaccination throughout various clinics and at the health department and previously had run out of the adult vaccine. Vaccinations are available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on a weekday basis at the health department.
The Gallia County Health Department as well still has vaccinations available to Gallia County residents free of charge. For more information, visit www.galliacohealth.org or call 740-441-2018.
For more on the 2012-13 flu season and other related information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.