by Kate Evans
Cases of COVID-19, seasonal influenza and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are increasing locally and nationwide with holiday gatherings and people spending more time indoors.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials issued a December 14 health alert about the low levels of vaccinations for flu, COVID and RSV. Officials urged that everyone get their annual flu shot and updated COVID shot to protect themselves and family.
War Memorial Hospital
War Memorial Hospital Emergency Room Manager Chris Parsons said that they’ve been seeing a considerable increase in Influenza A along with some COVID-19 in the past month.
The flu is more prevalent than COVID right now, she noted. They are also seeing some RSV cases but not as many as the COVID. They’ve also had some cases of strep.
Parsons advised that people do some “good hand-washing.” If they have a cold or are coughing, they should wear a face mask. People can still get a flu shot and they should protect themselves and family when having a get-together to celebrate Christmas.
River Bend Family Medicine
River Bend Family medical assistant Lindy Morris said they’ve been seeing a lot of coughing and congestion in patients. The practice had two flu cases and a couple of COVID cases last week, both down from the previous week. Their office wasn’t really seeing any RSV, but had seen some bronchitis and colds.
Morris urged people to “wash their hands.”
Morgan County Schools has seen a recent surge in strep, stomach viruses, COVID-19, flu and flu-like illness and asked for help in preventing illness in a December 13 letter sent to parents.
Parents are asked to keep children home from school and extra-curricular activities if they were showing any signs of illness such as a sore throat, a fever of more than 100 degrees, severe nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, chills, general discomfort or muscle aches, severe nasal congestion/cough and open sores or rashes.
The CDC reported that the number of weekly flu hospital admissions continues to increase across the country. The agency estimates that there have been at least 3.7 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,300 deaths from flu so far in the 2023-2024 flu season.
Seasonal flu activity is elevated in most areas of the United States.
A 2023-2024 updated COVID-19 shot is recommended for most people ages 5 years and older to be up to date. Those 6 months through 4 years of age need multiple shots.
The updated COVID-19 Moderna, Pfizer-Biotech or Novavax vaccines and annual flu shots are safe to get at the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC)
COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to protect against severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, according to the CDC. COVID-19 vaccines also reduce the risk of long COVID.
Health officials are urging everyone six months and older to get their annual seasonal influenza vaccine, especially if they are at high risk for serious flu-related complications. A high-dose influenza vaccine is recommended for those age 65 and older.
There are RSV vaccines available for those 60 years and older, a new RSV vaccine for pregnant women in their third trimester and a monoclonal antibody product for newborns and at-risk infants to protect at-risk populations from severe respiratory illness from RSV.
Pneumonia vaccines are also recommended for children and adults of all ages. Children and people 65 years of age and older are most susceptible to pneumonia.
Flu, pneumonia, COVID-19 and RSV vaccines are available locally.