(La Porte, IN) - This holiday season, many people need a little vitamin C in their stockings. There’s plenty of sickness going around. According to the La Porte County Health Department, at least one area school went to E-learning recently and another reported 22% absenteeism due to sickness.
It's unclear just how bad the recent wave of sickness is here locally. According to County Health Department Administrator Amanda Lahners, local hospitals and healthcare centers are not required to report information about illnesses such as the flu to the public, and despite requests from the health department, they have not done so.
Lahners said this year three nasty viruses are going around. “COVID is still very active. Obviously, it’s not causing what it was before—that hospitalization and death rate—but it’s still very contagious,” she said. “Everybody’s predicting a higher flu season. And then we also have RSV right now that’s circulating. So it’s that trifecta of illness.”
Lahners explained why there’s reason to believe this flu season will get worse before it gets better. “We kind of got a sneak peek. We saw that in Australia, they had a really, really bad flu season, and this year they’re projecting that we’ll have that same season. Usually, we kind of see the same thing.”
Lahners said the current spike in illness is a combination of fewer people being vaccinated and the perennial problem of producing a vaccine that counteracts the current strain of the virus. “Not enough people are getting vaccinated against the flu, so you keep circulating it,” she said. “But it’s also trying to predict a year in advance what needs to go into that flu vaccine and if they get the right mixture—and that could be part of why we’re seeing a higher rate also.” Health experts say it takes about two weeks for flu vaccines to take effect.
Flu cases are being tracked statewide. Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor says, “Hospitalizations are currently trending above last year’s levels, and at this pace, Indiana could meet or exceed the record levels of inpatient capacity we saw during the peak of COVID-19. As of this week, inpatient volume jumped 15 percent, with numbers surpassing 11,000.”
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 48 Hoosiers have died recently from the flu. Most of those are over the age of 50. Weekly influenza reports from the state can be found HERE.