|Tri-county sees rise in flu cases|
|Thursday, December 13, 2012 2:00 PM|
The Ohio Department of Health Seasonal Influenza Activity Summary indicates widespread flu virus activity in Ohio. For the week of Nov. 25 - Dec. 1, there were 90 reported influenza-associated hospitalizations; 40 in the Central, 11 in the East Central, 10 in the Northeast, 10 in the Northwest, 10 in the Southeast, five in the Southwest and four in the West Central region.
The flu vaccines offered by the health departments protect against the three most common influenza viruses; the A (H1N1) virus, an A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus.
Allen County Health Department Director of Nursing Becky Dershem reports flu shots are still available.
“Last year at this same time, we had 66 reported cases and this year we are at 78,” Dershem expressed her concern. “People should not put it off. I urge all residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The 20-year trend indicates there will be an elevated number of flu cases this year. Each month since September, there has been a higher frequency of reported cases of patients hospitalized with the virus.
The Allen County Health Department provides flu shots through weekly clinics from 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Appointments can be made by phone at 419-228-4457. All clinics are contingent upon vaccine supply availability. The cost is $25 and may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, Anthem and Med Mutual insurances.
The Putnam County Health Department is offering flu vaccinations from 9-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. on Tuesdays; until 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday; and from 9:30-11:45 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday. Appointments can be made by phone at 419-523-5608.
Medicaid, Medicare, and Anthem insurance are accepted for some vaccines. Flu shots are $10 for children and $20 for adults.
Van Wert County’s Infectious Disease Nurse Linda Bissonette reports the health department has flu shots available, including some free doses of vaccine which residents must qualify for. There is also a mist for kids ages 2-18 and can be used if there are no underlying health conditions. The two reported cases of flu this year is consistent with last year’s count of three.
“If residents can’t get to us, they can receive vaccinations at most pharmacies,” Bissonette detailed the vaccine’s effectiveness. “It takes 1-2 weeks before the vaccine protects you.”
The Van Wert County Health Department offers ‘in-vehicle’ vaccinations by appointment, which can be made by calling 419-238-0808. The walk-in clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday and Dec. 26. Flu shots for children are $12 and for adults are $25. Medicare and Medicaid insurances are accepted.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Signs and symptoms of the illness include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
Flu’s severity depends on which viruses are spreading, when and how much vaccine is available, how many people get vaccinated, and how well the vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness. Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu including older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and persons who live in facilities like nursing homes. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions.
There are three flu shots being produced for the United States market now; the seasonal flu shot approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, a hi-dose vaccine for people 65 and older and an intradermal vaccine for people 18-64 years of age.
A nasal-spray flu vaccine — made with live, weakened flu viruses is approved for use in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.