Rhode Island health official: Flu widespread again

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's health director says the flu is widespread in Rhode Island, triggering a requirement that health care workers who have not been vaccinated wear surgical masks during direct contact with patients.

Director of Health Michael Fine issued the declaration Wednesday.

The dominant strains in the late-season wave include H3N2, which has a significant impact on the elderly, and influenza B.

Officials say that of the 13 flu-related deaths this season, most were people in their 80s and 90s. Officials report 464 flu-related hospitalizations this season.

Fine says vaccinations are important for everyone older than 6 months, but it is particularly important for the elderly, people who are around the elderly, and health care workers.

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