Press release from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department:With confirmed flu cases continuing to climb at historic rates in Greene County, the Springfield Health Department and the health care community have opted to implement visitor restrictions to hospital facilities in our area.
Children ages 14 and under not seeking medical treatment will not be permitted to visit Greene County hospitals until further notice, beginning today, Tuesday, Dec. 23.
The restrictions are in effect systemwide at CoxHealth, including Springfield, Branson and Monett campuses.
Currently more than half of all flu cases being seen in Greene County are in children ages 14 and under.
Because of the high-risk nature of this age group, we are asking they not visit for the protection of our patients, hospital staff and the children themselves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended visitor restrictions nationally as well.
For the week of December 14-20, 445 people were found to have the flu in Greene County—436 with Influenza A and 9 with Influenza B. That’s up from 217 cases reported during the week of Dec. 7-13.
CDC always recommends 3 steps to fighting flu:
1. Take time to get a flu vaccine—even if it proves to be less effective this year, some protection is better than none.
2. Take everyday preventive actions like covering coughs and sneezes, staying away from sick people and washing your hands often to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses including flu.
3. If you do get the flu, taking antiviral drugs prescribed by your doctor can lessen the severity and discomfort of the flu.
A few reminders about getting vaccinated:
· Everyone over the age of 6 months is recommended to be vaccinated
· Even if you got vaccinated last year, it is important to get vaccinated again this year to protect from changing flu viruses.
· There has been some evidence nationally that a strain of H3N2 has mutated, making this year’s vaccine less effective against that specific virus. It is currently unknown if that virus has appeared in Springfield. Regardless, the flu vaccine should still be a top priority.
· Talk to your doctor about getting your vaccine if you have any health concerns
· It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated. Http://www.flu.gov/ has an interactive map showing the various locations where vaccine is available. Many locations in Springfield don’t require an appointment.
Beyond vaccination, there are several easy steps we can all take to prevent flu including:
· Washing your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and then wash your hands with soap as soon as you are able.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This is how germs are spread.
· Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
· If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without using fever-reducing medicine. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Call your doctor or health care provider if you have questions about illness.
More information on the flu, including weekly updates on Greene County numbers and the latest from the CDC, is available on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s website at http://health.springfieldmo.gov.