COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against the flu and other respiratory illnesses, saying it could be the worst the virus has been in years.
Dr. Joseph Gastaldo with OhioHealth said they're seeing a lot of respiratory virus infections and influenza admissions in their buildings.
“On average this week and last week we have about 400 confirmed hospitalizations in the state of Ohio from influenza, and if you look at where that was over on average over the proceeding five years, that's been below 50,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
The Ohio Department of Health reported there are 1,448 flu-related hospitalizations, as of Nov. 26.
For Lisa Kristensen, who is a mother to two Westerville students, it’s concerning. Just this past week Columbus Public Health reported a measles case in Westerville Schools.
Kristensen said her kids are vaccinated. But she said as a parent these days there are so many things you have to worry about when it comes to your kids’ health and safety.
"You have to think about when your kids are sick, you know what they're saying, what they're doing and getting other people sick," Kristensen said. "My daughter saying 'oh we have three people out with the flu today' then I think to myself, I should probably pay attention and see if she has any symptoms."
Dr. Gastaldo said doctors are keeping a close eye on three respiratory infections: influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 infections.
He said a big reason why doctors are seeing more hospitalizations is because fewer people are wearing masks inside. He said hospitals can handle a potential surge, but what's concerning is the staff.
“Healthcare workers are a part of the community so if we have a lot of people out with COVID and influenza, RSV or for that matter any other respiratory virus, that's where it's going to be challenging to have enough healthcare workers to take care of hospitalized patients and those in the office,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
His best piece of advice other than getting vaccinated is to watch how you're feeling.
Dr. Gastaldo said if you feel off, stay home, and monitor your symptoms.