Flu season in full swing; still time to get a shot

The Daily Journal

The flu bug is biting earlier this year and with an increased ferocity.

Local clinics have reported seeing twice as many patients with the flu as normal. The flu season usually is felt in full force in January, with a peak in February.

Need further evidence? Indiana ranks No. 5 in the nation in flu activity gains, according to the Walgreens flu index, which measures activity based on reports from its walk-in clinics. Neighboring Illinois is No. 6 in overall flu activity, and Kentucky is No. 10.

Franciscan St. Francis Health Immediate Care centers in central Indiana are seeing double the normal number of flu cases for this time of year, immediate care center clinical director Dr. Greg Miller said. Typically, most flu cases are diagnosed in January or February, with February being the busiest month historically, he said.

Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis has been admitting an average of five patients with the flu per day, media relations manager Joe Stuteville said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had predicted a strong flu for this winter, which is proving to be accurate, Miller said.

But there’s good news. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot, there’s plenty of vaccine available. And there’s time before the holidays, with the usual crush of people and indoor activities, for the vaccine to start working in your system.

While getting the flu vaccine won’t guarantee you won’t catch the flu this winter, it will help mitigate the effects if you do.

Schools are also watching out for the illness. Parents are reminded that, in order to prevent the virus from spreading, students must be fever-free without the use of medication for a full 24 hours before they can return to the classroom.

The other precautions are the common-sense ones preached every winter: Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes or nose, and cough into your elbow.

The flu season can extend through late May, so there likely will be more spikes in flu cases before this season is over. So getting a shot now will provide months of protection.

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At issue

The flu season is spiking earlier than normal this year.

Our point

By getting vaccinated and following some common-sense precautions, people can reduce their chances of getting seriously ill.