Central Ohioans are battling the flu like they haven’t had to over the past few years.
The number of hospitalizations is up, and the state reported its first child death from the flu in two years on Friday.
Officials would not release any other information regarding the child’s death.
Kerry Grinstead said that he has had the flu more than enough times in his life.
He was one of the people taking advantage of free flu shots offered by LifeCare Alliance on Friday.
“I think it’s foolish not to, under the circumstances, when you can get one at no cost,” Grinstead said.
Grinstead said that he was trying to avoid being one of nearly 300 Franklin County residents who have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.
Columbus Public Health officials said that during the same period last year, Franklin County saw 8 hospitalizations. The year before, they saw 48 during the same period.
“It’s a significant increase,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “Two-hundred-and-ninety-three is a lot for this time of year for us.”
Roberts said that hospitals are required to report those who are admitted with flu-like symptoms, which include high fever and chills, headache, cough and sore throat, body and muscle aches and fatigue.
State hospitals are required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to report pediatric deaths, but are not required to report adult deaths related to the flu.
Health officials said that looking at several factors, such as school absenteeism and emergency runs, can help them get a grasp of how bad a flu season is.
Doctors said that this season is bad and is getting worse.
“With what we’re seeing nationally and with what we have seen here, we really need to step up and we all need to be protective and do the right thing,” Roberts said.
Health officials stressed the importance of getting a flu shot and said that it is not too late.
Officials also encourage frequent hand-washing, not coughing into your hand and staying home if you’re sick.
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