Milwaukee health officials report more than 100 flu-related hospitalizations
Posted: Dec 23, 2014 3:04 PM CDT | Updated: Dec 23, 2014 3:13 PM CDT
Milwaukee Health Department officials say the number of hospitalizations is higher right now than it was this time last year because a different strain is circulating, but also say that fact should not deter people from getting the flu vaccine.
“This is the time of year when we typically gather with family and friends, and the last thing you want to bring with you is the flu,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “If you have not already received your flu vaccine, I urge everyone over 6 months of age to visit their doctor, clinic, or pharmacy to get vaccinated today. Even if you are healthy and can beat the flu, you will be protecting those around you by getting vaccinated.”
Influenza is among the most common respiratory illnesses in the United States, infecting millions of people each year. Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and fatigue. Though common, the flu can be serious, leading to hospitalization and sometimes death in the most vulnerable populations, including infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses.
“This year, we have seen flu-related hospitalizations in Milwaukee increase significantly since the Thanksgiving holiday, with most hospitalizations occurring in individuals ages 50 and older,” said Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker. “The single best way to protect yourself and your family is to get the flu vaccine. Although the current strain circulating is slightly different from that included in the vaccine, the seasonal vaccine is still the best protection you can have and can reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get sick.”
Earlier this month, the Glen-Hills School District in Glendale saw a flu outbreak that kept more than 100 students and dozens of staff members home for several days. Health experts say people experiencing symptoms should remain home from work or school, get rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take antivirals if recommended.
The flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals over 6 months of age. Those especially at risk for complications from the flu include people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and lung disease, as well as the elderly, pregnant women and young children.
Flu vaccine remains available through local health care providers and retail pharmacies, though area residents are advised to call ahead to determine availability. Individuals looking for a location to receive vaccine near their home can use the flu vaccine finder at www.milwaukee.gov/health.