In response to the unusually high and growing number of flu cases in the county, state and nationwide, the Portage County Health Department is holding additional flu shot clinics at both the Portage County Health Department and Kent Health Department.
"With the closing of Ravenna City Health Department's immunization clinic, we felt it necessary to offer city residents as well as county residents another opportunity for getting their flu shot" said DuWayne Porter, county health commissioner.
"It's not too late to get your flu shot" said Rosemary Ferraro, nursing director for the county health department. "We are seeing an increase in flu cases right now, but it is important to remember that flu season can last as late as May."
Ohio's flu activity is already at "widespread" levels according to the Ohio Department of Health, meaning there have been outbreaks of influenza and increases in flu-like illness in at least half the state.
ODH reported 1,922 flu-associated hospitalizations statewide since October, compared with 86 a year ago and 175 the previous flu season. A total of 192 of the cases last week were in the Northeast region.
Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna has restricted visitation by children under 14 years of age and for people with any symptoms of the flu.
And Kent State University is advising students with flu-like symptoms not to attend class or other public events during their illness.
"We just want to make sure that our students stay healthy," said Todd Diacon, KSU's senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "If students have flu-like symptoms, we'd rather they stay home and get better and make up the classwork."
"Patients are often surprised by how very ill they feel with influenza," said Dr. Angela DeJulius, KSU's chief university physician. "Prescription antiviral medicines can sometimes help to reduce the duration of illness, but are not a cure. The flu usually lasts at least a week."
The state health department says there is an adequate vaccine supply at this time. A particular office or location might run out, but there is an adequate supply in the supply chain, ODH spokesperson Tessie Pollock said.
Everyone is at risk for getting the seasonal flu. The CDC has recommended that all people aged 6 months and older should receive a flu shot, especially pregnant women, children 5 years of age and younger, adults 50 years of age and older, people with chronic health conditions, health care workers, and people who live and/or care for people who are at high risk for complications from the flu.
All clinics are walk-in, no appointment necessary. Cost is $10 for children and $20 for adults. Medicaid, Buckeye, Care Source, United Health, and Medicare Part B (as primary insurance) are accepted. Nasal flu vaccine is available for children 2-18 years of age.
Clinics are set for:
Monday, Jan. 14, 3 to 6 p.m. at the Portage County Health Department Nursing Clinic, 1st floor, next to WIC at the Portage County Administration Building, 449 S. Meridian St., Ravenna.
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 3 to 5 p.m., Kent City Health Department, 325 Depeyster St.
Every Wednesday in January, 8 a.m. to noon, Portage County Health Department
Nursing Clinic, 1st Floor, next to WIC at the Portage County Health Department Nursing Clinic, 1st floor, next to WIC at the Portage County Administration Building, 449 S. Meridian St., Ravenna.