SCIOTO — Coronavirus numbers have been trending in the right direction as of late in Scioto County and Ohio. Yet, the same could be said for influenza hospitalizations during its entire 2020-2021 season.
As previously reported by the Portsmouth Daily Times, public health experts feared a “twin-demic,” where the coronavirus and the flu would coincide and lead to crowded hospitals.
These viruses both spreading through air droplets, Portsmouth City Health Department Director of Nursing Christine Thomas said efforts in slowing the spread of COVID- masking and social distancing- were contributing to the promising flu trend.
“If we were going to stop COVID-19 with mitigation measures alone, we would need a very high level of compliance,” she said in the Dec. 23 article. “Whereas with the flu, if we were going to stop the outbreak with mitigations, we wouldn’t have to adhere to them as strictly.”
The Ohio Department of Health tracks hospitalizations between October and May, its five-year average graph indicating a peak between January and March where weekly reports have reached over 700 hospitalizations.
A peak of such magnitude has not taken place this year, the state reporting 78 total hospitalizations as of Feb. 12. Only one hospitalization in the county has been reported.
Its pacing is also much slower than last flu season, where nearly 5,500 hospitalizations, 37 locally, were recorded as of Feb. 9, 2020. Ohio had reached the 78 hospitalizations threshold by early November 2019, only five weeks into the season.
While the coronavirus vaccine has been promoted as the quickest return to normal as of late, the flu vaccine has a long history of support from the Southern Ohio Medical Center.
SOMC said in a September release that they had flu vaccines at their outpatient pharmacies and family health centers, located in Portsmouth, Wheelersburg, Waverly and West Union.
“If you’re not vaccinated against the flu, it may be difficult to differentiate the symptoms of influenza from the symptoms of COVID-19,” Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. David Byers said in the release. “Not only will the vaccine protect you from the flu, it also reduces the risk that COVID-19 will be spread by individuals who mistakenly believe they are sick with another illness.”
In terms of the COVID vaccine, Scioto remains above the state average of those receiving the first dose and second doses. As of Feb. 15, just under 9,400 residents or 12.5% have started the process and over 4,100 or 5.5% have completed that process.
Previously leading the state in terms of those starting the vaccine, Scioto now trails Delaware, Clark, Putnam, Mahoning and Lucas counties. Supply has continued to remain an issue for local providers, the Scioto County Health Department posting Feb. 8 that it could not schedule vaccine appointments due to its scarcity.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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