As of Jan. 4, there have been 7,111 flu-associated emergency room visits, 170 flu-related hospitalizations and 170 deaths associated with pneumonia or flu reported in Cuyahoga County as reported by CDPH during this year’s flu season.
Current flu activity is considered “very high,” which traditionally begins to increase in October and can last as late as May. Cases typically peak sometime between December and February.
Influenza B is the predominant strain circulating this season and is associated with 73 percent of cases. Affected populations are substantially younger than in the previous five seasons. Of those with known vaccination status, 59 percent of those with Influenza B were not vaccinated and 75 percent of those with Influenza A were not vaccinated.
Throughout the duration of flu season, the Cleveland Department of Public Health is offering flu shots at the Thomas McCafferty Health Center on Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (4242 Lorain Rd.) and the J. Glen Smith Health Center on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (11100 St. Clair Ave.). Vaccinations are also widely available at health clinics, doctor’s offices and drug stores throughout the community. Vaccination is safe and is one of the best methods for preventing the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that can be spread by airborne droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. It causes mild to severe illness which can cause hospitalization or death. Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Because influenza is unpredictable and spreads each year with the timing, severity, and length of the flu season varying, the CDC states that getting a shot through the end of January is still effective.
Other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu include:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Staying home when sick
- Washing hands often or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or coughing or sneezing into elbows
For more information, call the CDPH flu hotline at (216) 664-4621.