COLUMBUS -- Health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated, wash or sanitize hands regularly and stay home and away from people when sick, as the state's flu season kicks into high gear.
The Ohio Department of Health announced Jan. 11 that influenza-like illnesses were now widespread throughout the state since the flu season started in October, with 287 new confirmed hospitalizations during the first week of January and 654 total flu-associated hospitalizations over the past several months. There were nearly 3,700 flu hospitalizations during last year's season.
Health officials also say there's plenty of vaccine available to help prevent infections. According to Melanie Amato, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Health, nearly 397,000 doses of the flu vaccine have been shipped to providers around the state, including 51,620 requested by local health departments.
"Influenza vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu, except for infants younger than 6-month old who aren't eligible to receive it," Sietske de Fijter, chief of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases and state epidemiologist, said in a released statement. "Vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits and missed work and school The short time it will take to get a flu vaccine is much less than the time it will take you to recover from the flu."
Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, aches and fatigue. Amato said the agency recommends anyone dealing with such symptoms should check in with their doctor.
Additional information is available online at www.flu.ohio.gov.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.