Flu cases on the rise, flu shots advised


“March comes in like a lion” is usually a weather phrase — but this year it can also apply to flu season.

Flu cases are indeed on the rise according to national and state health reports — and according to local physicians, like Dr. Robert Ruggieri, of Island Urgent Care, which has four locations on Oahu.

“We’re definitely seeing more flu than we have in the last couple of years in our clinics. We’re seeing all ages, so, it hits everybody equally.”

Some of the cases have been lethal and tragically, involve infants. Some 15 babies on the mainland died from the flu during the most recent reporting week. There have been no fatal cases involving infants in Hawaii this season, according to the State Health Department.

Healthcare professionals encourage everyone to get a flu shot saying in this case, prevention truly is the best medicine. 

The very young and kupuna are among the most vulnerable to the flu — but Dr. Ruggieri says many others are also especially vulnerable.

“Those who are immuno-compromised as well. Anyone on chronic steroids, anyone with chronic diseases, like diabetes and asthma, as I mentioned, can get very sick when they’re hit with the flu.”

And even if you don’t suffer from any of those health problems, getting a flu shot may prevent us from infecting our loved ones who do have those issues.

In addition to getting a flu shot, preventing the flu includes some common-sense tips that you have likely heard all your life:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  • Avoid close contact with people if you, or they, are sick.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap.  
  • Avoid touching your face.

Dr. Ruggieri has another word of advice:

  • Don’t share food or drinks.

“For example, we will often, even adults, will share things, ‘Hey here, try this drink, it’s delicious,’ and you may not know that you or the other person may be coming down with the flu, so be careful that way.”

If you have not yet been vaccinated for the flu, Dr. Ruggieri is offering free flu shots tomorrow at Island Urgent Care’s Hawaii Kai clinic.

Free flu shots:

Island Urgent Care – Hawaii Kai

Saturday, March 9, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hawaii Kai Towne Center 
6600 Kalanianaole Hwy.
(Next to Roy’s)

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