Flu numbers drop this week, but officials warn to not let your guard down

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This week, Marion County hospitals saw a slight decline in the number of emergency department visits related to the flu. Even so, health officials are reminding Hoosiers that the flu is spreading and that there are still ways to protect yourself.

The Marion County Public Health Department reported 226 emergency department visits for flu-like symptoms from Dec. 30-Jan. 5. This is slightly lower than the 233 visits reported in the previous week, but is more than double the 104 visits reported during this time last year.

Lisa Lowery of the Franciscan Visiting Nurse Service is being flooded with calls from people who never got a flu shot and are now worried.

“Most people that are calling in are saying that their physician’s office or their pediatrician’s office no longer has the vaccine,” Lowery said.

Still, the health department and other agencies said there is no shortage of vaccine. It just may take a few extra calls to find the type of vaccine you want, since it’s been available for so many months.

“Our flu mist is gone. All of our flu mist expired December 31,” Lowery said of the VNC’s doses.

Lowery still has plenty of shots available. You can call her office at (317) 722-8200 to schedule an appointment.

She and others urge everyone to get vaccinated, even now that the flu is widespread. It takes two weeks for a dose to fully work, but even if you get the flu in the meantime, Lowery said it can help keep symptoms mild.

Indiana is currently one of 41 states experiencing widespread flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Indiana is also one of 29 states reporting high levels of flu-like illnesses.

Marion County Public Health Department director Dr. Virginia Caine said the number of flu cases could increase, especially among children, now that schools are back in session following the holiday break.

Simple precautions such as good hand washing and staying home when feeling sick can help ease the spread of the flu. Dr. Caine also said it’s not too late to get a seasonal flu vaccination.

If you’re interested in getting vaccinated, call the health department’s Flu Hotline at (317) 221-2121, or visit MCHD.com to find health office locations.

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