SALEM - The Salem City Health Department still has flu vaccine available for anyone trying to stave off the illness that's been hitting most states, including Ohio.
"Demand is still slack despite the reports of widespread flu activity," city Health Commissioner Richard Setty said during a recent health board meeting.
The department has been advertising the availability of the flu vaccine on the sign in front of the Kent State Salem City Center, but there haven't been a lot of takers. The department nurse has administered about 40 shots out of the 100 doses of vaccine supplied by VaxCare.
Anyone who needs a flu shot can call the Salem City Health Department at 330-332-1618 to make an appointment. The cost is $30, either through self-pay or through Medicare or health insurance coverage billed by VaxCare. Health department offices are located on the first floor of the KSU City Center, with the entrance at the northwest corner of the building.
"Influenza is starting to hit and it's not too late to get your vaccine," Mayor John Berlin said.
As mayor, he's the chairman of the health board and noted that someone recently asked him if the health department had flu shots, which they do.
According to the Ohio Department of Health website, the flu is now widespread in Ohio. A case count of influenza-associated hospitalizations for the 2013-2014 flu season in Ohio, covering the dates from Sept. 29 to Jan. 25, showed 1,970 cases, which includes 14 cases in Columbiana County.
The hospitalization numbers were recorded on a chart on the ODH website at www.odh.ohio.gov, or accessible through www.flu.ohio.gov under flu activity. The numbers of nearby Ohio counties included 35 cases in Mahoning, 9 in Carroll, 115 in Stark and 24 in Trumbull.
Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland, had the most with 490 cases for nearly 25 percent of the hospitalized cases in the state. Next was Franklin County, which includes Columbus, with 231 or more than 11 percent of the cases in Ohio.
In a press release issued earlier this month, ODH Director Dr. Ted Wymyslo urged residents to get vaccinated against the flu virus.
"Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Although most people fully recover from the flu, a small portion of people do experience severe illness (like pneumonia and respiratory failure), and sometimes the flu can be fatal," the press release said.
Anyone who gets the flu who is pregnant, younger than 5 years old, is elderly, has an underlying medical condition or has a severe form of flu should contact their healthcare provider, the release said.
Besides getting the vaccine to lessen the chances for flu, the release suggested washing hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes with tissues or coughing or sneezing into elbows, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth and staying home when sick until fever-free.