Flu, RSV cases remain high throughout winter months

Published 10:00 am Friday, December 22, 2023

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The holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends but with the rates of flu and RSV still on the rise since November, it’s important to take precautions like getting your annual flu shot.

According to East Alabama Medical Center P.R. & Marketing Director John Atkinson, on Tuesday, the hospital had seven cases of flu at the Lanier location and 6 cases in Opelika. 

Though the vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect, Atkinson said it is still recommended that people get their vaccinations to lower their chances of severe symptoms. 

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The Center for Disease Control recently issued a Health Alert Network (HAN) advisory for healthcare providers to “administer influenza, COVID-19 and RSV immunizations now to patients.”

According to the report, there has been a continued increase in influenza, RSV and COVID-19 cases the VTN reported in November. There has also been an increase in cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). 

Coupled with lower vaccination rates, there is likely to be more severe cases and more strain on healthcare.

Atkinson said December through February are the worst months for flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory infections at the EAMC. The higher the cases of flu, the more strain it puts on hospitals all around.

Flu vaccine rates have lowered in the last year for all age demographics. The rates have decreased by 2-3% in most adults. 

The rates suggest more people are going without vaccines. Many people are hesitant to receive vaccines for various reasons. Atkinson said those who are hesitant should talk to their healthcare providers to find out if they are recommended to get vaccinated. 

“It has a pretty proven track record,” Atkinson said. 

The report also recommends that healthcare providers counsel patients on preventative measures such as staying at home when sick and washing your hands. Though it is the season for holiday parties, Atkinson said it’s better to stay home if you feel sick whether you get a flu shot or not.

“If it’s at the risk of getting others sick, it’s really not worth it,” Atkinson said.

He also said to remind your children to wash their hands.