Health director: Flu shots crucial for protecting community


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The flu is currently considered widespread in Rhode Island and the state’s Department of Health continues to spread the word about the importance of getting vaccinated.

“We are definitely monitoring, we are really promoting the importance of the flu vaccine,” R.I. Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said Wednesday. “Not just for yourself, but for the people around you, and making sure our community receives the protection that is needed. Rhode Island does really well with flu vaccination. We really need to improve that and keep it going.”

Flu Resource Guide: Symptoms, preventative actions, and more »

Because the flu is widespread, unvaccinated healthcare workers are required to wear masks during direct patient contact.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and many other states throughout the country are also experiencing widespread flu activity.

The Massachusetts State Department of Public Health (DPH) said the severity of the flu “increased from low to moderate this week” in the state.

According to DPH, the percentage of influenza-like illness visits for Massachusetts is higher than the previous two years during the same week.

Officials also noted that in the 2019-2020 flu season, more influenza B strains have been reported by hospitals and outpatient facilities than influenza A strains.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of last week, more than 6.4 million people were infected with the flu. Nearly 3,000 people including 27 children have died and more than 55,000 people were hospitalized.

Symptoms of the flu include fever and cough or sore throat. Symptoms can also include a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, a headache, chills, fatigue, vomiting, or diarrhea.

The health department recommends that everyone older than 6 months should be vaccinated for the flu every year. The vaccine is especially important for pregnant women, younger children, people over the age of 50, nursing home or group residents, and people with chronic conditions.

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