Riley Co. Health Department urges vaccination as flu, COVID pick up

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 1:51 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - As cases of the flu and COVID-19 pick up, the Riley Co. Health Department has urged residents to get vaccinated against both.

The Riley Co. Health Department says that for the week of Oct. 29, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment recorded 48 new cases of COVID-19 for the county. This put the county back in the substantial zone with 64.7 cases per 100,000 residents. However, this total does not include at-home tests.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 9, RCHD indicated that one COVID patient is hospitalized at Ascension Via Christi in Manhattan and is on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit. The death total for the county remains at 97.

“Healthcare professionals everywhere are already seeing high numbers of flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this year,” said Health Department Director Julie Gibbs. “I hope the COVID season will not be as severe as in years past, but I urge people to take precautions. We can all take action to keep ourselves and others safe from illness.”

RCHD warned that anyone with symptoms of COVID or the flu should take precautions to avoid spreading the illness. The same measures that reduce the risk of COVID are also effective in reducing flu transmission. However, the single best way to reduce the risk of both - and potentially serious complications - is to get vaccinated.

“If you haven’t yet been vaccinated for the seasonal flu or received your COVID booster, you still have time,” said Gibbs. “Flu activity typically begins in October and lasts through May, with the peak of the season happening during the winter months.”

RCHD noted that both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are available at its clinic with walk-ins welcome. Appointments can also be scheduled in advance at 785-776-4779.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza hospitalization rates across the nation for children are more than 10 times higher in 2022 than they have been in the past decade. It said adult hospitalizations are more than twice as high as rates over the past 10 years and as of mid-October, 360 deaths due to the flu were reported - including one child. Around 80% of those who died were not vaccinated.

Despite the increases in hospital visits and hospitalizations for the flu, RCHD said flu rates remain low. The CDC shows that only 21% of adults and 22% of children have received a flu shot so far this year.