As the holiday season of socializing winds down, and children get ready to head back to school, health department officials say you might have brought home more than left overs from that holiday party or family get together.
The Morgan County Health Department is expecting a spike in flu cases during the first half of January says Executive Director Dale Bainter.
“We are still at an elevated risk throughout the nation, it has been that way for about five or six weeks and they have continued that elevated activity rating this week also.
Flu starts for us in October, we start giving shots and about the time we let our guard down we hit Thanksgiving, then Christmas then New Years, everyone brings their kids together and this is that time we start to see a spike.”
Hospitals in the area including Passavant in Jacksonville continue to operate under an elevated flu risk level, requesting limited visitations to patients while the risk of spreading the flu is high this time of year.
Bainter says that with school returning to session next week, he and his wife are already making a contingency plan for who can stay home with their children should they catch the flu from being back in the mix with the rest of the student body.
Bainter says it is never too late in the flu season to guard against contracting the virus.
““We are still giving flu shots on a regular basis at the health department, and we still have vaccine available. It seems like every time we go to a holiday get together, somebody says “oh gosh, the kids were sick yesterday but they are better today, or little Johnny’s not feeling real great today”.
Everyone gets in those confined spaces, we have basketball tournaments going on, we have church gatherings, family get-togethers, so we really anticipate a spike in flu cases coming in the next couple of weeks.””
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated every flu ‘season. Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses during a single flu season. Everyone else needs only 1 dose each flu season.
It takes about 2 weeks for protection to develop after vaccination. To find out more information about the flu shot, contact the Morgan County Health Department at 245-5111.