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Flu hospitalizations down 90% from this period last year

By Carla O'Day

The Washoe County Health District reported the first influenza-associated death locally on Wednesday for this season, but noted flu-related hospitalizations have decreased significantly from this time a year ago.

The latest surveillance report shows nine current flu hospitalizations, compared to 90 hospitalizations and three deaths at this period a year earlier.

“We have seen far fewer flu hospitalizations and deaths reported than in previous years,” Kevin Dick, district health officer, said in a statement. “However, with COVID-19 still being transmitted in our community, the same mitigations measures apply and we strongly encourage you to get a flu shot. It’s not too late. Having a flu shot will help prevent getting the flu and also will lead to less-severe symptoms if you do get it.”

Washoe County Influenza Hospitalization Rate per 100,000 Population, 2016-2021 Seasons.
Source: Washoe County Health District 2020-2021 Influenza Surveillance Program Weekly Report, Week 2

The death was a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions. This was the first flu-associated death in Washoe County since December 2019.

Although flu hospitalizations are down locally and nationwide, Dick said people still need to be vigilant because flu season extends into May. Anyone who hasn’t had their flu vaccine is encouraged to get one, he said. Flu vaccines are available at pharmacies, physician offices and through the Washoe County Health District. A list of vaccine clinics is also online at https://www.immunizenevada.org/find-vaccine-clinics

Health district officials say those at highest risk for flu complications are children younger than age 5, adults older than 50, pregnant women and individuals with a chronic health condition. People who live with or care for high-risk populations should also be vaccinated. However, healthy people can also experience severe complications related to the flu.

The health district advises those planning on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that there is a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccine, including the flu shot.   

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