MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Flu no longer widespread in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Director of Health Michael Fine said on Thursday that the flu is no longer widespread in the state, but those who have not been vaccinated should still received a flu shot.


"Although the level of flu in Rhode Island has dropped, unvaccinated Rhode Islanders remain at risk for getting the flu," Fine said. "The flu is a serious illness and it typically remains in Rhode Island until April. For anyone who has not yet been vaccinated, it's not too late to protect yourself and the people around you."


Healthcare workers who have not been vaccinated are not required to wear a mask during direct patient contact anymore. They had been required to do so since Jan. 8, when the Department of Health declared the flu to be widespread. If the level of flu increases again, the masking requirement will be placed in effect again.


The Department of Health said Rhode Island had two flu-related deaths and 239 flu-related hospitalizations during the 2013-2014 flu season. The state experienced 961 hospitalizations during the 2012-2013 flu season.


The Department of Health reported that 491,264 residents received flu vaccinations, which was a 1 percent increase over the previous year and a 14 percent increase over the 2011-2012 flu season.


Fine said people over six months of age, and especially children younger than 5 years of age, healthcare workers, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with underlying health conditions, should received a flu shot every year.