LIMA — Health officials are urging Ohioans to get a flu shot as the state experiences an early start to flu season.
The Ohio Department of Health reported an above-average 135 influenza-related hospitalizations during the last week of October, a 335% increase from the previous week.
While only a handful of those hospitalizations originated from the Lima region, Allen County Health Commissioner Brandon Fischer anticipates the region will experience a similar trend in the coming weeks.
Typically, health officials recommend waiting until late October or early November to get vaccinated for influenza, so the vaccine remains effective through the peak of flu season. But due to the unusually early start to flu season, Fischer said anyone who has not had their flu shot yet should get one “as soon as they can.”
And for those who typically skip the shot, Fischer said “this is probably a good year to go out and get that flu shot to ensure that they can have that protection.”
Allen County Public Health has been offering flu shots and updated COVID-19 boosters at its off-site vaccination clinics on Mondays and Fridays at Clock Tower Plaza in anticipation of a busy respiratory virus season.
About 5,700 Allen County residents, many of them older than 50 years old, have gotten an updated COVID-19 booster since September, ODH data show.
The updated boosters, which were designed to target the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the newer, highly contagious subvariants of the virus, are available to anyone as young as 5 who has already been vaccinated against COVID-19.
While the booster shots can’t protect against infection, Fischer said, “it’s showing exceptional strength protecting against hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”