With the early arrival of flu season, Ohio is seeing hundreds more flu-related hospitalizations this month, compared to previous years.
Vickie Kelly with the Marietta Health Department says it’s not yet clear whether these numbers – which usually peak in February – are indicative of an early peak or will continue to increase.
Kelly is encouraging everyone who hasn’t yet to get their flu shot, and adds that the vaccination has modernized over the decades.
“In the past, technology was not as advanced as it is now and after getting the flu shot, sometimes people would get the flu, due to the vaccination containing a live virus,” explains Kelly, “Now, they have only been giving dead or inactivated virus flu shots. Sometimes, people who have never gotten the vaccine before may experience mild body aches and a low-grade fever, but they’re not getting the actual flu.”
A higher dose vaccine is given to those aged 65 and older, considered a high risk group for flu complications. Kelly says studies showed a more potent formula increasing the immune response in seniors.
The City Health Department also offers a flu mist vaccine, found to be more effective for children.
Immunity to the flu takes between ten to fourteen days after receiving the shot. In the mean time, Vickie Kelly says the most important thing you can do is wash your hands often, sneeze or cough into your elbow instead of your hands, and stay at home if experiencing flu-like symptoms.
The Marietta Health Department, located at 304 Putnam Street, offers flu shots Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It costs $10 for children and $25 for adults. Medicaid and Medicare are accepted and nobody is turned away for an inability to pay.