By Lindsay Hedgecock
Lansing Star staff writer
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Compared to last year’s H1N1, or swine flu epidemic, the current influenza season is not as severe according to Robin Roach, director of Infection and Disease Prevention at Sparrow Hospital.
“This year’s flu or respiratory season won’t even come close to the number of cases we had during last year’s H1N1 pandemic,” said Roach.
Despite the low numbers of flu vaccinations this season, the number of hospitalized flu cases has not hit its peak yet said Roach.
“Currently, we are still ascending toward the peak,” said Roach. “The number of distributed vaccinations won’t begin descending until the end of February.”
According to Roach, Sparrow Hospital has given out 4,170 doses of flu vaccines since October. The first few cases of influenza hospitalized and treated at Sparrow ranged from children in their early teens to early middle-aged adults.
The flu season typically begins in October, with the first cases around Thanksgiving and lasts until April, said Roach.
“There are many concerns with influenza or the flu,” said Roach. “If someone gets it, then they are susceptible to contracting a secondary infection of pneumonia, and will have to be given antibiotics instead of the basic flu vaccination.”
In the past five years, the Center for Disease Control, or CDC, has lowered the earliest age to get vaccinated to infants as young as 6 months. The CDC also has a higher dose for the elderly due to their slower immune systems, allowing them to not get multiple shots throughout the influenza season.
These are the symptoms and the precautions
According to the CDC, flu symptoms include sore throat, fever, coughing, running or a stuffy nose, body aches, chills and fatigue.
Prevention of influenza is important, said Roach, who has three simple rules to prevent influenza or prevent its spread.
1. Make a habit of washing your hands with antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer several times throughout the day, especially if in contact with someone who has the flu
2. Get your flu shot. the CDC recommends everyone get vaccinated
3. If you become ill, avoid spreading the illness to other people
“People should avoid sharing with others if they have the flu,” said Roach. “They shouldn’t go to school, work, or take their kids to daycare if they are sick.”