Flu activity begins to spike across country

As flu outbreak numbers rise, the HSE says it's not too late to get your vaccine

As flu outbreak numbers rise, the HSE says it's not too late to get your vaccine

Ottawa, in contrast, was seeing a lower rate of influenza overall and among children than the national rates as of the end of the year (the most recent numbers).

According to officials, there is high flu activity throughout the state so it's important for those who have not yet gotten a flu shot-especially health care workers-to get one.

Twenty-four states and Guam were reporting widespread influenza activity - meaning the virus has spread to many parts of the state, regardless of severity - as of December 29, the latest date included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) weekly flu report. Those at higher risk of flu complications include children under five, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.

There have been high rates of children hospitalized across the country this year.

The CDC says early estimates show more people are being vaccinated this year, which could be one reason why this flu season isn't as bad as last year, but that could change.

Last season at that point, 11,275 cases of lab-confirmed flu had been reported. (Lab-confirmed cases represent a small percentage of all flu cases, often just the ones that require hospitalization).

New Jersey has been especially hit hard with flu cases now high around the entire state.

"It's not just flu, but also other respiratory viruses", tweeted hospital CEO Alex Munter, "busy viral season".

The flu season is far from over though.

Ottawa's hospitals and Ottawa Public Health are encouraging people who think they have the flu to stay home and rest, take plenty of liquids and ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches and fever. Data suggests that more people got vaccinated earlier this year than they did last year, perhaps motivated by memories of the prior season. "It's the best protection that we have to give people against the flu", said Russell, adding that children and adolescents, adults with underlying lung or heart conditions and the elderly should make sure they are immunized.