For the first time this flu season, there has been an increase in flu activity in the state of Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Health reports that flu-related hospitalizations are increasing, with 338 new hospitalizations in the first week of January, compared to 166 during the last week of December.
As of now, there have been a total of 893 flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio this flu season, which runs from October 2018 to May 2019.
Flu season numbers generally peak between December and February.
The ODH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that it is not too late to get a flu shot and recommend that everyone six months old and older get one. Flu shots take about two weeks to take full effect.
"Flu vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu which can lead to missed work and school, and cause other serious health complications," Dr. Clint Koenig, ODH Medical Director, said, "Pregnant women, young children and people who already have serious medical conditions are especially at risk for serious complications from the flu."
Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.
Although most people fully recover from the flu, it can sometimes be fatal and some may experience severe illness such as pneumonia and respiratory failure.
The ODH urges people who think they may have the flu and are pregnant, have an underlying medical condition, or are extremely ill to contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Flu vaccines are offered at many doctor's offices, clinics, local health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers and some schools.
In addition to the flu shot, other ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu include washing your hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or by sneezing into your elbow, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and staying home while sick until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.