Three additional people in Marion County have died due to the flu, announced health officials Wednesday.
A total of five people have died from flu-related illnesses in Marion County, and a total of 40 people have died statewide. Of the 40 deaths, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 38 individuals had underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and renal disease. They stated a large majority of the deaths, 33, were individuals older than 65. Two victims were younger than 18.
Officials from the Marion County Public Health Department also reported an increase in the number of visits to emergency rooms for influenza-like illness, but they said the growth of patients slowed from the previous week.
State Health officials tell Fox59 the flu deaths to not appear to be concentrated in any single corner of the state. Marion County is the only county with 5 or more deaths. That means the remaining 35 deaths occurred in counties that have four or less fatalities.
This flu season has already been called the worst in a decade. Officials at Visiting Nurse Service at St. Francis said it’s too early to tell if we’ve seen the worst of it.
“I would say err on the side of caution and say that we’re getting deep into it,” said Heather Hewitt, of VNS at St. Francis.
The VNS at St. Francis office was busy Wednesday afternoon with parents seeking flu shots for their young children. Many of them came to the clinic because their own doctor had run out.
“We’ve been encouraged by our pediatrician’s office to get the second one,” said mother Lauren Blair. “Especially for the little guy.”
Hewitt said there is no national shortage of the flu vaccine. But the rate of supply is barely keeping up with demand. That means many doctors’ offices may run out until a new shipment comes in.
Marion County hospitals implemented visitor restriction policies last week in order to prevent the spread of the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this year’s flu season began earlier than usual and quickly became severe, with outbreaks reported nationwide.
Symptoms of influenza include: high fever, headache, fatigue, cough, muscle aches and sore throat. Health officials encourage anyone experiencing these symptoms to contact their health care provider.
The CDC recommends everyone six months old and older get vaccinated. If you haven’t gotten an annual flu vaccine, it’s not too late, doctors say. To further protect yourself, try to avoid anyone who is sneezing and coughing, and wash your hands.
“It is important that everyone receive a flu shot during this aggressive flu season,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Public Health Department. “By offering an opportunity like this, we can vaccinate people who otherwise might not get this added layer of protection from the flu.”
The Marion County Public Health Department continues to offer low-cost flu shots at its district health offices. Adult flu shots are $15, children ages 2-18 are $10, and infants under the age of 2 are free. A list of locations is available by calling the Flu Hotline, 317-221-2121, or going to MCHD.com.