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EDITORIAL: Flu limits visitation

Kokomo Tribune - 12/24/2019

Dec. 24--Due to widespread flu activity across Indiana, Ascension St. Vincent Kokomo and Community Howard Regional Health began limiting visitors Friday.

Kokomo's two hospitals said they temporarily will admit:

No visitors with flu-like symptoms, such as a fever or cough.

No visitors under age 18.

And only the immediate family or partner will be allowed to see a patient.

The Centers for Disease Control reports flu-like illnesses killed more than 110 Hoosiers during the 2018-19 flu season -- and four over the age of 65 this flu season.

2003-04 was the worst flu season in 35 years and killed 48,000 Americans. It was topped by the number of flu-related deaths during the 2017-18 season.

The CDC estimates that influenza was associated with more than 48.8 million illnesses, more than 22.7 million medical visits, 959,000 hospitalizations, and 79,400 deaths.

Flu season in recent years has peaked in January or February, but people could catch a flu strain that was included in this winter's formula. It's for this reason the CDC advises we still should be inoculated.

Some folks are skeptical.

Part of the concern about vaccinations grows out of a federal program in 1976. Roughly 40 million people got shots, and about 400 developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a form of paralysis. Some died.

Scientists were never able to figure out what caused those 400 cases, but some say it might have had no connection to the shots. About 140 new cases of the disease are diagnosed in the United States every week.

In any case, medical experts argue that not taking the vaccine is a lot more dangerous than taking it.

Some point out that for the vast majority of patients, the flu is no big deal. Its victims will feel lousy for a few days, and then they'll be back at work or in school, good as new.

Why, then, should people take the risk of getting the shots?

The answer, the experts say, is that in a very few cases, the flu can be a very big deal. It can be deadly. Influenza kills between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans every year.

And the only way to protect yourself from becoming one of those victims is to take the vaccine. Thus, the advice from the experts is straightforward: Get a vaccination.

What will happen if people ignore that advice? Medical experts say the answer is simple: A lot more people will die.

If you want to be protected, get the shot.

Kokomo Tribune editorial board


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