Flu hits nation, including Alabama, hard. Tuscaloosa is no exception

Health officials recommend residents get flu vaccinations as number of people affected increases

By Hollie Ferguson
News Reporter

The United States has the flu. Numbers are at an all-time high this flu season with 32 states experiencing high numbers of influenza-like illness according to the CDC. Nine others are experiencing moderate numbers.

Bradly Fisher, communications director at DCH Regional Medical Center, said the number of patients presenting with the flu is up four times what it was in 2015.

“There were 575 total tests given out for the flu last week,” Fisher said. “122 of them came back positive.”

The number is down slightly from the week before, when there were 575 people tested and 143 tests coming back positive for the flu.

Fisher said the people at most risk for hospitalization include young patients, old patients, pregnant patients and patients with underlying conditions.

“Over the weekend there were 20 [patients hospitalized] one day and 17 the other,” said Fisher.

Walgreens spokesperson Allison Mack said it’s not too late to get a flu shot, and the demand for the shot around the country is rising.

“The flu shot is the best protection you can get against influenza, and each year the CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone over the age of six months,” Mack said. “Due to the recent spike in flu activity, we are experiencing greater demand for flu shots in the area.”

While IV bags are at half capacity nationwide due to the destruction at factories in Puerto Rico, many patients are going to private clinics in the area like Hydralive Therepy to help with their symptoms.

“We have actually seen an influx over the last few weeks, of not just our existing customers but a lot of first-time customers as well,” said Christy Johnson, communications manager for Hydralive Therepy in downtown Tuscaloosa. “Hydralive is an IV clinic so we offer different cocktails that help with illness recovery.”

Johnson said the number of customers requesting the defensive blend has increased over the past several weeks.

“Specifically we have one additive that can be added to any iv bag that’s called defensive blend and we have certainly seen an increase over the last several weeks of people getting that added to their bags,” Johnson said. “The defensive blend helps to ward off signs and symptoms, or even to help people as they are recovering from the flu.”

While the CDC recommends the flu vaccine as the best way to prevent the flu, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself against influenza.

The CDC recommends that you avoid people who are already sick, wash your hands often with soap and water, avoid touching your face and clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated.