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Health Commissioner Urges Residents to Get Protected from Flu

Local Monitoring Shows Rapid and Severe Flu Season- Don’t Wait to get a Shot!

Influenza arrived early this season and central Ohio is already experiencing significant flu activity based on local flu indicators, mirroring those released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Locally, hospitalizations are significantly high. As of January 5, there were 293 cases of hospitalizations, compared to nine cases in 2011 and 48 cases in 2010 during that same time frame. Current levels of influenza like illnesses (ILI) also are nearing what have been peak levels of ILI during moderately severe seasons in the past.

As a result, Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long strongly urges central Ohio residents to take action, get protected with a flu vaccine and practice common sense to minimize the spread of illness in our community. “I urge all residents to take advantage of the vaccine available in our community and get protected as soon as possible,” says Dr. Long. “There is no way to predict how severe the season will get, but a flu vaccine – while not 100 percent effective – is still your best protection against this serious and potentially complicated illness.”

Ohio upgraded its status from regional geographic spread to widespread early in the season, indicating more disease in our state. Right now, influenza A (H3N2) viruses are predominant. Typically, “H3N2 seasons” are more severe with higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, but it’s not possible to say at this time if these viruses will continue to predominate this season or how severe the season will get.

Columbus Public Health also tracks flu trends by monitoring local lab positive tests, hospitalizations, the number of emergency department/emergency room visits, over the counter cold medication sales, pediatric urgent care visits and school absenteeism.

Dr. Long adds the best way to protect yourself from the flu is by getting a flu shot, staying home if you are sick, covering your cough and washing your hands.

For more information, visit flu.gov or Columbus Public Health at publichealth.columbus.gov or on Facebook /Twitter/YouTube.

Or Call the Columbus Health Department at 1 614 345 3111


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