HONOLULU(KHON2) — Flu cases are on the rise in certain states, including Hawaii according to new data from the CDC. Health officials continue to urge folks to get vaccinated.
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Three weeks into flu season and cases are on the rise according to Caroline Pratt, chief of the disease investigation branch at the Hawaii Department of Health.
“Hawaii’s flu rates are currently at moderate,” Pratt said. “A lot of the mainland is at minimal or low so we are a little bit higher than the rest of the mainland.”
KHON: “What does moderate mean, how many cases are we seeing?”
“We’re in the middle of week 43 right now,” Pratt said. “The first week of the season was week 40 so it started October 1st. We had about 350 cases diagnosed that week and about 375 diagnosed the next week.”
According to Pratt they are still compiling data from week 42.
She said she’s not surprised cases are higher in Hawaii compared to the mainland.
“Our flu season is longer and starts earlier than the mainland cause we have visitors from all over the world.”
Those 25 and under, including school age children, are impacted the most.
“This is expected,” she added. “This makes sense, they’re in school they’re around each other a lot more. so we are seeing higher cases there but we do worry about more severe cases in the very young, in infants, and in the elderly.”
She said flu related hospitalizations are increasing, but they are not at capacity yet.
“That said, it’s just the beginning of the season and we do still have COVID, we do still have RSV and other respiratory viruses,” Pratt explained.
At least 107 people have died since October 1 due to pneumonia, influenza or COVID-19 according to DOH.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, a cough, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, headache, and runny nose.
“Getting vaccinated is really important,” Pratt said. “You can get your COVID vaccine at the same time.”
Other ways to stop the spread: washing your hands, staying home when you are sick and wearing a mask, especially in crowded areas.
KHON: “Are we predicting the upward trend in (flu) cases to continue?”
“It’s early so we don’t know for sure,” Pratt said. “Studies have shown that this year’s vaccine does seem to be pretty well matched with the variant circulating in the rest of the world.”