Spike in flu cases creates overcrowding in emergency departments

VANCOUVER – As influenza spreads, residents experiencing flu-like illness are being asked by county health officials to first contact their health care provider before visiting a hospital on their own.

This effort is designed to reduce overcrowding, help prevent the spread of flu to others, and ensure emergency departments are able to treat other serious medical conditions.

“Most people who have the flu will be very uncomfortable but do not need to go to an emergency department,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer and Public Health director.

Flu shot vaccine is widely available in Clark County. To get vaccinated, call your health care provider or pharmacy. If you don’t have health insurance, call Sea Mar Community Health Centers at (360) 852-9070 or the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington at (360) 313-1390 to make an appointment for a low-cost flu shot. Photo by Mike Schultz
Flu shot vaccine is widely available in Clark County. To get vaccinated, call your health care provider or pharmacy. If you don’t have health insurance, call Sea Mar Community Health Centers at (360) 852-9070 or the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington at (360) 313-1390 to make an appointment for a low-cost flu shot. Photo by Mike Schultz

People should avoid going to emergency departments unless they’re experiencing the following conditions:

Both adults and children:

  • Confusion or can’t be woken up
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
  • Blue lips or skin rash
  • Unable to drink or keep liquids down

 

Children

  • Fever in an infant younger than 3 months
  • Excessive irritability

 

Anyone 6 months of age or older who has not yet received a flu shot should get one as soon as possible. Vaccination is the best way to prevent catching flu.

Other ways to avoid catching and spreading flu include frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.

Vaccine is widely available in Clark County. To get vaccinated, call your health care provider or pharmacy. If you don’t have health insurance, call Sea Mar Community Health Centers at (360) 852-9070 or the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington at (360) 313-1390 to make an appointment for a low-cost flu shot.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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