This flu season is a lot milder than last year but local health officials warn you it’s not over yet.
Just this week a Chicago child died from the flu.
It was the first pediatric flu death in Illinois.
Iowa has had nine adult deaths.
A spokesperson for Genesis Health says this year, the Quad Cities has seen a massive decrease in flu-related hospitalizations.
“Yes there is flu in the community and it is at a peak, it is across the country, but we’re not seeing people with a lot of serious illnesses like we had last year,” says Lisa Caffery, infection prevention coordinator at Genesis Health System.
She says there are two reasons for that decrease.
One is a better vaccine.
“So far this year it looks to be a really really good match,” Caffery says.
The CDC indicates that this year’s vaccine is 22% more effective than last year’s–and even moreso for kids.
Caffery also says the QCA has a high vaccination rate, thanks, in part, to a genesis initiative called Flu-Free Quad Cities.
“Every year we try to get 10,000 shots and this year we’ve got about 8,000 shots in about 88 different schools which protects about 50,000 people locally,” says Angie Kendall, Genesis Foundation senior development officer.
For more than a decade, the initiative targets the smallest in our communities who can be some of the biggest carriers of the virus.
“Remove the barrier of having to go out of school to get their shot. Go right to them, get it taken care of, we keep them safe, we keep their siblings and their parents, their caregivers, their grandparents safe,” Kendall says.
Still, the numbers can change in a matter of weeks; the flu threat can linger until May.
“It really comes down to washing your hands, one. Two: Staying home if you’re stick. And it’s not too late to get a flu shot. We are at the peak of flu season, but it’s not too late; this could last several more weeks, so you still have time to get protected,” Caffery says.
She recommends wiping down your keyboards, mouses and phones regularly with a disinfectant.
She also says many people don’t use hand sanitizer properly, but when they do, it can be very effective against the flu virus.
She offers more workplace flu-fighting tips here: