Ohio Health Department Raises Flu Activity Level To 'Widespread'

Hamilton Health Sciences is planning for higher volume visits due to the flu season says Sarah Khan the associate director of infection and control

Ohio Health Department Raises Flu Activity Level To 'Widespread'

The Ohio Department of Health has upgraded state flu activity to widespread, its highest level.

The season's first flu-related death was reported last week. "As recently as 10 years ago the thought was, if you had an egg allergy, you should not get the flu shot because it was thought you would have a reaction".

Almost 100 people have been hospitalized for flu and the highest number of cases was in Hartford County.

However, not everyone in that range has been able to get the vaccine to date.

Even though it is the single most effective way to prevent infection, only 46.8% of people living in the United States got vaccinated for the 2016-17 flu season, according to CDC data.

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Because the vaccine contains egg protein, doctors used to advise against the shot entirely or to get it only in the presence of an allergist if someone had a known allergy.

Historically, people with egg allergies weren't able to take advantage of the same flu vaccinations that the general population can.

"We still have some time to get immunized we think it's going to peak earlier this year than it did last year for the flu season which means near the end of this month", said Dr. Whitacre.

One of the main concerns with any vaccine is a severe allergic reaction - known as anaphylaxis.

Health officials say an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older is the best prevention against the getting the flu.

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The authors note that previous studies have shown that patients with egg allergy (including life-threatening allergies) have received a flu shot without experiencing allergic reactions.

"We are now at the point where any remaining contraindication or special precaution is unnecessary, and there should be no barrier to the egg allergic patient receiving this vaccine in the primary care setting, like any patient may", Greenhawt noted.

"This is the best preventative measure we have against contracting influenza", Greenhawt said.

The health district likely won't hear about someone missing work or school for a week because of the flu virus, Patterson said.

Khan said there is also an intranasal spray version of the vaccine for those who don't want the needle. That means the vaccine should be as effective as it was a year ago.

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