Published: Wed, January 31, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Schools Close in Response to Most Severe Flu Season Since 2009

Schools Close in Response to Most Severe Flu Season Since 2009

The department reported 15 flu-associated deaths last week and 14 deaths the previous week. On Tuesday morning, Metro Health announced it would be offering free flu shots on a first come, first serve basis to anyone with a state-approved ID.

"If folks want to go back to work or back to school, they need to be without any symptoms for at least 24 hours", said Dr. Gary Wheeler, Health Department Chief Medical Officer. Flu vaccine is available in all District 4 county health departments on a walk-in basis, no appointment necessary while supplies last. Young children (0-5 years old), the elderly (65 and up) and those with chronic diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are most at risk. In addition, the CDC estimates an economic impact of $16 billion in lost earnings and productivity due to flu, not including the intangible costs of personal suffering.

"The flu season has continued to be challenging and flu has been intense across the United States", said CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, during the conference. There are no proven downsides to getting the flu shot, aside from a few rare side effects.

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At its current pace, the 2017-2018 flu season will equal or exceed the 2014-2015 flu season, when 34 million Americans got sick, 710,000 were hospitalized and roughly 56,000 died. Not only are people concerned for their health, they are also becoming scared when they hear there might be a flu vaccine shortage.

Locally, there are several options to get the shot.

For the third straight week, 49 states have reported widespread flu activity, CDC officials said Friday, in contrast to most years when it hits different parts of the country at different times.

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Secondly, if you get the flu, the next step is to seek early treatment from medical professionals. "It's really the same thing as with influenza except there is no vaccine", he says. "Do not send them to school if you notice your child displaying any flu-like symptoms". It is important to remember that anyone can get sick from the flu.

An annual vaccine can help prevent the flu and limit its complications.

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