Doctor: Not Too Late for Flu Shot

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CLEVELAND -- The flu has hit early and with a vengeance in Ohio.

Far more people have been hospitalized this flu season, compared to past years.  

The Ohio Department of Health has reported a child death related to the flu, but it is not too late to protect you and your children from the flu.

Seven-year-old John Hammond was at the Rocky River Urgent Care on Sunday getting checked out. 

Even though everyone in the Hammond home has gotten a flu shot, his mom wondered if he came down with some strain of influenza. 

"It worries me.  My son tends to get everything that is going around and usually gets it a little more severe than most people. So, I always worry about him with this,” Jessica Hammond said.

She has cause for concern.  According to the ODH, Ohio is in the midst of an unusually active influenza season.  

Dr. Justin Smith sees three to five flu cases a day at the Rocky River Urgent Care facility. 

"I had a patient even today who was as young as 4 who tested positive.  And I have had people, the elderly and everybody in between,” he said.

The flu symptoms seem especially aggressive this year.

Dr. Smith generally prescribes the medication Tamiflu.

"It's not like an antibiotic. It doesn't actually kill the flu virus.  What it does is basically impede its progression.  So, the idea of using the medication is to decrease the severity of the symptoms and the duration of the illness,” Dr. Smith added.

The ODH reports nearly 2,000 flu related hospitalizations so far this flu season. 

That is more than ten times the number of people hospitalized for the flu all of last year.

"It's scary, very scary.  But, that's why we wanted to get in here right away and get things checked out,” Hammond said.

Dr. Smith said the most fragile members of our community are most susceptible to getting the flu.

“It would be the very young, the very old or people that have sort of a predilection to respiratory difficulties. So, people with severe asthmatic problems or emphysema," he said.

Dr. Smith said it is not too late to get a flu shot. It will take about two weeks to take effect.  The flu season can last through March.

In response to the increased number of flu cases, the Portage and the Medina County Boards of Health are holding additional flu shot clinics this week. 

A shot at the Medina County Board of Health will cost residents $12 and non-residents $14.50.  Private distributors charge $25 or more.

Click here to find a private distributor of the flu vaccine in your area.