Flu-related hospitalizations in central Ohio have drastically increased this year, according to the Columbus Public Health Department on Thursday.
According to the department, as of Jan. 5, there were 293 reported cases of hospitalizations, compared to nine cases in 2011 and 48 cases in 2010 during the same timeframe.
Health Commissioner Teresa Long asked central Ohioans take action against the flu by getting a vaccine and using "common sense" - such as staying home when sick, covering coughs and washing hands - to minimize the spread of the illness.
"I urge all residents to take advantage of the vaccine available in our community and get protected as soon as possible," Long said in a release Thursday. "There is no way to predict how severe the season will get, but a flu vaccine, while not 100 percent effective, is still your best protection against this serious and potentially complicated illness."
Columbus Public Health tracks flu trends by monitoring lab positive tests, hospitalizations, number of emergency visits, over-the-counter cold medications ales, pediatric urgent care visits and school absenteeism.
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