GREENE COUNTY — As peak flu season nears, Greene County Public Health officials report flu hospitalizations are down so far.
Don Brannen, PhD, community epidemiologist for GCPH reported 13 hospitalized flu cases from Oct. 14, 2018 to Jan. 4, 2019 in the county.
Brannen said nine of the 13 reported flu cases were confirmed and four were suspected. GCPH’s surveillance system counted 17 cases, showing a higher number due to possible cases, but only 13 were confirmed.
Numbers are down for 2018-2019 compared to the same time period the previous year, with the surveillance system counting 81 for the same 12-week period in 2017-2018.
Statewide, Ohio Department of Health reported 540 flu-associated hospitalizations between Oct. 14, 2018 through Dec. 29, 2018.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older. People at high risk of flu complications include pregnant women, older adults, young children and people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, cerebral palsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, kidney or liver disease, muscular dystrophy, obesity or sickle cell disease.
According to the GCPH website, persons should check with their doctor before receiving a flu vaccine if they’re allergic or sensitive to eggs or have had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine. The flu vaccine cannot give persons the flu, but may cause one to develop flu-like symptoms. Residents should also remember that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take full effect. Other diseases like the common cold produce flu-like symptoms.
According to the CDC, in past flu seasons when the match between flu vaccine and circulating strains of flu virus is close, a flu shot is between 60 to 70 percent effective.
Individuals can protect themselves from the flu by washing hands often, using alcohol-based sanitizer, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth and avoiding crowds. Persons who already have the flu can help prevent the spread of the illness by staying home and allowing time to recover, covering their mouths and not sharing drinks.