How flu season in Ohio is different than other parts of the US

How flu season in Ohio is different than other parts of the US
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:49 AM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Flu season has been well underway since October, and cases are ticking up for the big three respiratory diseases – COVID-19, RSV and the flu – but health officials are saying it may not be as bad as last year here in Ohio.

“At this point last year, you probably recall, we were in the midst of a dramatic spike in both influenza and RSV cases,” Bruce Vanderhoff, the director of the Ohio Department of Health said. “Now I’m happy to report that is not the case this year.”

Last year in Ohio, there were 13,680 positive flu cases reported during the month of December, the peak of the 2022-2023 season. That was more than seven times as many cases reported in December 2022, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Even though the CDC lists Ohio as having minimal flu activity, flu cases are ticking up across the U.S., especially in the southern states. The CDC estimates there have been at least 780,000 flu illnesses and nearly 500 deaths since October.

Health officials say vaccinating yourself is protection against preventable respiratory disease, and as always, that they expect a winter surge in cases.

A new COVID-19 vaccine launched this fall for everyone six-months-old and older, but most Ohioans have not gotten the shot.

“So far, more than 882,000 Ohioans have received this vaccine, or about 7.6% of the population,” Vanderhoff said.

As for RSV, the Ohio Department of Health says if you have a newborn age eight-months-old or younger and the mom did not get the vaccine during pregnancy – you should get vaccinated now.

Vanderhoff said vaccine rates for Ohio kindergarteners improved during the 2022-2023 school year after a decline over the past few years, although vaccine exemption requests have increased in Ohio and nationwide, something the Department of Health said could have grave consequences.

“It is far better for us to protect our children from getting these, than to deal with the aftermath, which can unfortunately lead to hospitalizations and death,” Vanderhoff said.

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