VDH: High flu activity at daycare facilities, schools

A surge in flu cases across Virginia has health leaders on high alert.
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 7:06 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The seasonal wave of influenza, hitting the U.S., including Virginia, harder than in years past.

Virginia health officials urged caution Thursday, just one day after the first pediatric flu death of the season was reported in southwest Virginia.

“With going to school, gathering at school, coming home for the holidays and then returning to school - we do often see a lot of respiratory viral spread during this time of year,” Lisa Sollot, respiratory disease coordinator for the Virginia Department of Health said.

Vaccinations are down, and flu cases are up, outpacing previous flu seasons.

According to the CDC, Virginia ranks as one of the top states for “very high” flu activity.

“We are seeing widespread outbreaks that are reaching large numbers of people inside of a facility which indicates we are seeing a lot of spread,” Sollot said.

The raging virus, she said, is likely due to low immunity levels from isolation during the pandemic.

Last week alone, VDH reported 15 outbreaks, most of which were found at daycare facilities and classrooms.

“Every single pediatric death from influenza is alarming to us and is an indicator that the season may be more severe,” Sollot said.

Another possible indicator of a harsh flu season, Sollot said, is the dominance of “Influenza A.”

“In past seasons, we have sometimes seen more severe illness with “Influenza A” strains, and we’ve seen very little Influenza B activity. Not just this year but in the previous two seasons,” she said.

While VDH is alerting healthcare systems to consider ramping up flu testing, it’s urging everyone to take precautions such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks in crowded spaces and, most importantly, getting vaccinated.

The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU is now rolling out a fast-track flu shot clinic at its Children’s Pavilion on 1000 E. Broad Street.

Anyone 6 months and older can get vaccinated. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 804-828-CHOR (2467).