This year’s flu season has been spotlighted in the news recently for being particularly vicious, and while Grayson County does not seem to have been one of the worst-hit areas, the local hospital is urging people to be cautious and take action to reduce the flu risk.
Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center implemented voluntary visitor restrictions in all patient care areas this week in order to “protect visitors, patients and employees during the influenza season,” a recent press release from TLRMC said.
Signs posted at all entrances, elevators and public areas throughout the hospital carry the following message:
To protect your children and our patients during the flu season, we strongly recommend visitation by children under 18 years old be discouraged.
All visitors are encouraged to limit visitations. Do not visit the hospital if you have signs of possible flu (runny nose, cough, fever, and/or malaise (achy feeling) etc.
“Our goal,” said Sandy Blair-Sanders, RN and Infection Prevention/Employee Health Coordinator at TLRMC, “is to protect the health and safety of our patients, many of whom are already vulnerable and susceptible to more serious illness.”
According to the release, the measures will also help protect healthy young people and other high-risk individuals.
The Grayson County Health Department has been giving a large number of influenza vaccinations this season, according to Clinic Nurse Sandy Clark, who said that this has been at least partially influenced by news coverage calling this year’s strain of flu a particularly “bad” one.
“We had kind of slacked off,” Clark said of the number of people coming in for the shot, “and since all this stuff is coming in on the news, people are bringing their children in and getting shots for them, and they say they heard it was a bad strain of flu.”
Clark said that the Health Department does recommend vaccinations for high-risk people “like small children, pregnant women, anyone with a chronic illness, and the elderly.”
She said that the shot can be given to children as young as six months old, but that there is only a limited amount of these children vaccines available now.
Anyone who would like to get the vaccination can call or walk in to the East White Oak Street office between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. or between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., though Clark said scheduling an appointment is encouraged and could greatly reduce wait time.
Clark also said that the typical December to January flu season is changing a bit, and people should no longer assume that they cannot contract influenza at other times of the year as well. She said that the protection a person receives from the vaccination should last for several months, and will still be somewhat active by the time flu shots roll around for next year.
Whether you receive the vaccination or not, she suggested taking basic precautions to avoid illness, such as “a lot of hand-washing.”
According to TLRMC, the flu is considered “wide spread” in 46 of 50 states, including Kentucky,and there have been several school districts across the Commonwealth closed due to a large number of students and staff being out with the flu.
Grayson County Schools Superintendent Barry Anderson said Monday afternoon that attendance is not down notably here from the typical attendance percentages for January.
Parents should still make sure that their children exercise caution to keep from getting sick. Caneyville Elementary School Nurse Chastity Thorpe said “I think the flu is in our area, that’s for sure.”
“We have seen a few episodes of kids with flu-like symptoms,” Thorpe explained, and said that if your child is running a fever or has flu-like symptoms, they need to stay at home until the fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
For additional information on the flu, TLRMC’s Director of Planning and Marketing, Bill Oldham, suggests visiting www.cdc.gov/flu on a regular basis or following @ CDCFlu on Twitter.