WHEELING - The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is cutting back its seasonal flu shot clinics to its normal two days per week.
As the number of cases continued to increase locally and across the nation, the health department responded by offering the vaccine five days a week. Now that the demand for the shot has declined, the clinic schedule is back to normal: 9-11 a.m. and again from 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.
But the flu still is widespread, said health department Administrator Howard Gamble.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Wheeling resident Pat Holmes, left, receives a flu shot from nurse Kristina Bacca at the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department.
"The national flu map has changed from mostly red (higher levels of flu/influenza-like illness activity) to moderate levels. West Virginia is still at red, with a high level of influenza-like illness/flu activity. We continue to get reports from both hospitals (in Wheeling) with positive tests and hospital admissions related to flu," Gamble said.
"Although the number of cases may have begun to level off, it will take weeks to return to our normal baseline of cases, and there is no guarantee that during a decline in cases we wouldn't see additional spikes in cases or outbreaks," he added.
Gamble noted that during the past few weeks, the demand was higher.
"But we continue to see people coming in, especially kids," he said.
In addition to getting the vaccine, people's best defense against the flu is to wash their hands frequently and clean frequently touched surfaces.