VA flu season could be worse than previous years: State Department of Health

VA flu season could be worse than previous years: State Department of Health

VIRGINIA – This flu season could be worse than previous years based on early signs, the Virginia Department of Health said Monday. Health officials are also raising concerns about respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, and a respiratory illness that commonly spreads among children during the winter.

flu season it typically begins as flu activity picks up in October, peaks between December and February, and continues through May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC noted that the timing of flu activity has been less predictable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this year, the Virginia Department of Health noted that more people have been seeking care for flu-like illnesses at urgent care centers and hospitals than in previous years in the early part of the flu season. Health officials noted that the trend has been especially focused on children under 1 to 4 years old. The Virginia Department of Health is monitor flu activity through a weekly report.

Common flu symptoms They are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea are more common symptoms in children than in adults. The CDC says that most people experience mild flu and should stay home and avoid contact with other people. However, those who feel very ill or are at increased risk of complications can contact their health care provider and seek influenza antiviral drugs.

Annual flu shots are recommended by state health officials for everyone older than 6 months (with rare exceptions) to combat influenza viruses. According to the state health department, this season’s flu vaccine targets flu viruses that research suggests will be the most common. September and October are recommended as ideal times to get a flu shot, but health officials say flu shots are still beneficial in November or later.

“The best way to reduce your risk of the flu and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated every year,” Virginia State Health Commissioner Colin Greene said in a statement. “That’s why I encourage Virginians to get their annual flu shot and practice healthy preventative habits.

The CDC noted that residents can safely receive a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot at the same time. Children over 5 years of age, as well as adults, can receive the updated COVID-19 booster targeting the original virus strain and the most common omicron subvariants.

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are available throughout Virginia through providers such as pharmacies and the health department. To find vaccines near you, visit www.vaccinate.virginia.gov either www.vaccines.gov.

Other respiratory illnesses can spread during flu season, according to the CDC. The Virginia Department of Health is also warning residents about the respiratory syncytial viruso RSV, a cold-like illness for most people that can be serious for young babies or people who are immunocompromised.

The Virginia Department of Health has quadrupled emergency department and urgent care visits related to diagnosed RSV cases since September. Common symptoms include runny nose, decreased appetite, cough, sneezing, fever, and wheezing.

While there are no vaccines for RSV yet, residents can take preventive measures similar to those for colds and other respiratory illnesses. The CDC recommends that people with cold-like symptoms cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper sleeve, wash hands often with soap and water, avoid contact close with other people and clean frequently touched surfaces.

Also, people with cold-like symptoms should avoid contact with premature infants, children under 2 years of age with chronic lung or heart conditions, and children with weakened immune systems if possible or take preventative measures.

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