MEDFORD, Ore. – The number of flu cases has been on the rise in Oregon, and it has similarities to a severe strain from four years ago. Doctors are recommending people get vaccinated to avoid getting sick.
Dr. Jim Shames of Jackson County Health said the predominant strain in this year’s flu is H1N1, which caused severe symptoms in 2009. This year’s flu vaccine is designed to protect against H1N1, and Shames said people should get the vaccine as soon as possible.
According to the Oregon Public Health lab, 47 people in Oregon tested positive for H1N1 in the final week of 2013, bringing the total up to 135 cases of H1N1 across Oregon since October. The flu is also hitting Southern Oregon, with Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center reporting 69 positive cases since October.
H1N1 can cause more illness in children and young adults, but older adults are also susceptible.
Health professionals said the flu season typically lasts about six weeks, and said the Rogue Valley is hitting its peak flu season right now.
“If you go back and look last year we tended to peak around the third week in January, so we’re seeing a lot more cases in the hospitals. Urgent care is seeing more,” Shames said.
Doctors said young children and people with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable to the flu.
Jackson County Health administers the vaccine Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Josephine County Public Health also has the seasonal flu vaccine available.