PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon is seeing a spike in flu hospitalizations and other signs that this year’s flu season may be more aggressive than the last few years.
In the most recently available numbers, the state reports that there were 81 flu-related hospitalizations during the week of Christmas. That was a jump from 67 the week before and just 18 the week before that.
Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said the flu season doesn’t typically peak in Oregon until later in January and February.
“It’s not too late to get vaccinated. That’s the big message,” Modie said.
Oregon’s flu-surveillance system found that the week of Christmas saw more than 4 percent of outpatients had influenza-like illness. That number is higher than the past four years at this point in the flu season.
While state figures don’t yet show any pediatric deaths from the flu this year, KGW-TV reports that a 5-year-old boy from Eugene recently died from the flu at Oregon Health & Science University.
Dr. Mo Daya, who works in emergency medical care at OHSU, said he’s seen flu cases at nearly every shift. He reiterated the message that the vaccine can help.
“The vaccine is the best preventative thing we have today. I encourage everyone who hasn’t had the vaccine to get out and get the vaccine to try to protect this from occurring,” Daya said.
Many of the flu cases this year are the H1N1 strain that was an epidemic in 2009. The flu vaccine can now help protect from H1N1.
The H1N1 strain is more likely to hit young adults and children.