Flu Season is Here, but the Spike Hasn’t Arrived – Yet

According to the Department of Public Health, as of October 19, influenza-like illness (defined by fever greater than 100°F and cough and/or sore throat) was at “minimal” intensity in Massachusetts – but it had begun to increase slightly over the previous week.  Flu vaccine is available across the state at multiple locations, including healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, school and workplace vaccination clinics, and flu vaccine clinics sponsored by local boards of health.  A list of flu vaccine availability based on zip code is here. DPH also tracks influenza-associated hospitalizations as a percentage of all hospitalizations. While flu-related ED visits in 2018 are very low, data shows that each year – from mid-December through February – hospitals experience a spike in flu ED visits.  Hospital EDs have cautioned that a nurse’s ability to provide quick care to a patient suffering from flu could be hampered if that nurse is limited by inflexible ratios in an ED as envisioned in Question 1.