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Ohio catches cold: Influenza virus continues to spread

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Over the past month, the influenza virus has infected communities across America. The virus, being rated as a “widespread” infection early on by the Centers for Disease Control, particularly affected Ohio. In all the major Ohio metropolitan areas, the flu has persisted and taken a number of people; some are even calling it an “epidemic,” though experts say differently.

“We don’t generally declare our state at ‘epidemic’ status during flu season.  We refer to the flu activity and intensity levels, currently widespread activity and moderate intensity,” said Tessie Pollock, Public Information Officer for the Ohio Department of Health.

However, that is not to say the numbers being seen are insignificant. “Our most recent surveillance data shows that there have been 1,922 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported so far this flu season. That total number compares to 86 at this point in the 2011-12 season and 175 at this point in the 2010-11 season.  In addition, one influenza-associated pediatric death has been recently reported,” said Pollock.

Despite these high numbers, however, it seems vaccinations are still in plentiful amounts. Despite the concern that communities may run out during certain times, the state has a decent supply of influenza vaccinations left. If one is curious about the level of vaccinations being put out, they may visit the ODH’s website for more information.

Local OU student Chris Stratton isn’t too worried, however. He has not yet had the flu this season, though he isn’t too concerned about contracting it. “I figured that if I get the flu, I get the flu. All I can do is get vaccinated and hope I don’t get it, though I doubt I will. Nobody else in my family has gotten it,” said Stratton.

Not only is Stratton unconcerned about catching influenza, he is protected against it. Stratton already received his flu shot for this season, and believes he is strong in his defense against the “epidemic.”

Stratton is equally not worried about any sort of epidemic or vaccine shortage. He believes the central government will allocate the appropriate resources to the appropriate places. However, Stratton does recognize that there seems to be a high frequency of influenza infections this season.

“When I went to get a shot, there nobody was there in line; however, when my brother went there the day before there was a very long line, so there seems to be a pretty high demand for it,” said Stratton.

There is a very high demand for the influenza vaccine this season. Not only did the Stratton family go to seek it out, so too did many families all around Ohio. In response to the high amount of vaccine demand, the Ohio Centers for Disease Control have enacted several health ordinances in order to combat the onslaught of influenza.

The ODH has enacted, ODH develops flu fact sheets for school administrators to distribute to staff, parents and students. In addition, ODH launched its TV public service announcement campaign; and ODH is in contact with vaccine dispensaries to make sure they have adequate amounts.

Not only is vaccine still well stocked, it is said that it will remain that way for the duration of the flu season.

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