Hachoo! Flu season begins in Ohio

Staff Report

The nasty season for fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue is here.

The flu is spreading across Ohio, and the state health department is recommending that everyone six months and older get vaccinated right now.

Traditionally, flu season runs from October to May, with cases typically peaking between December and February.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a yearly flu vaccine as the best protection. This year’s shots have been updated to better match the most prevalent strains of flu virus.

“Flu vaccination can help keep you from getting sick, missing work or school, and prevent flu-related hospitalization and death,” said Sietske de Fijter, state epidemiologist and Ohio Department of Health bureau chief of infectious diseases. “The more people who get vaccinated help protect others, including older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.”

“If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading it to others,” said de Fijter.

Although most people fully recover from the flu, some experience severe illness like pneumonia and respiratory failure, and the flu can sometimes be fatal.

People who think that they may have the flu and are pregnant, have an underlying medical condition, or who are extremely ill should contact their health care provider immediately, the health department said.

Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and college health centers, as well as by many employers and some schools.

While vaccination provides the greatest protection against the flu, other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading it include washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick and until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.

More information about influenza and flu activity in Ohio is available at www.flu.ohio.gov.

Staff Report