More than 11,000 people are in inpatient care as of this week, Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor said in a news release. (Indiana Department of Health)
Hoosier health and hospital officials on Monday urged residents to get the flu vaccine as hospitals strain under the weight of a fast-growing caseload and rising death toll. The flu has killed 24 people as of a December 3 report; the next such update will include the state’s first child flu fatality.
“Like many states, Indiana is experiencing very high levels of flu activity right now,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box in a news release. As residents prepare to travel and gather with family for the holidays, she encouraged vaccination for anyone six months and older.
“This year’s flu vaccine continues to be a good match for the circulating strains, and it is your best protection against a severe, and possibly tragic, outcome,” Box said. It takes two weeks for the antibodies triggered by the vaccine to develop.
Indiana hospitals are tackling triple the trouble this winter, as the flu, respiratory syncytial virus — known for its deadly potential for infants — and COVID-19 circulate. The flu is different, and more severe, than the common cold.
More than 11,000 people are in inpatient care as of this week, Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor said in a news release. And he warned that the state could break records for inpatient capacity set during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tabor and Box said that, when possible, Hoosiers should get tested for respiratory illnesses and seek care for mild symptoms at a family physician’s office or a local urgent care, rather than at a hospital emergency room.
“Our hospitals are dealing with the triple impact of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 right now, along with normal emergencies and illnesses, and we want to keep emergency rooms clear for Hoosiers who urgently need them,” Box said.
Those most at risk for developing flu-related pneumonia, requiring hospitalization or even dying include pregnant people, young children, elderly people, and those with chronic illnesses or who are otherwise immunocompromised.
The Indiana Department of Health recommends washing hands often with warm and soapy water, covering a cough or sneeze with an elbow or tissue, and staying home when sick.
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