PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — This year’s flu season is hitting the country hard. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said widespread flu activity is now reported in every state, except Hawaii.
As a result, hospitals in Rhode Island are seeing a spike in patients with flu symptoms, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).
RIDOH Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said the current strain that is widespread is H3N2. She and other health directors urge the public to get vaccinated, saying this year’s vaccine covers the widespread strain.
“The flu vaccine is the best defense against the flu,” Alexander-Scott said.
The CDC said H3N2 tends to cause more severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. In Connecticut, there have been 15 flu-related deaths so far this year, most recently at 10-year-old boy died from the virus.
In Rhode Island, RIDOH said the last flu season saw 12,000 hospitalizations, while this season has seen 203 so far. Alexander-Scott said 94 of those have been in this week alone.
“Our hospitals are overflowing because of this increased viral activity,” Alexander-Scott said.
Alexander-Scott said anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms should talk with their primary care physician before going to a hospital, unless the symptoms are severe.
Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, head and body aches, fatigue and runny nose. In some cases, some people experience vomiting and diarrhea.
RIDOH suggests everyone older than six months should be vaccinated against the flu each year. The vaccination is most important for pregnant women, people over the age of 50, nursing or group home residents and people with chronic conditions.