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Flu levels subside in R.I., but immunization still important

PROVIDENCE – As influenza illness levels begin to subside across the state, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) reminds all Rhode Islanders that it is not too late to be vaccinated against influenza.

"Although we saw an early spike in influenza cases this flu season, it is important to note that we could see the number of influenza cases rise again before the flu season officially ends in May," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH, adding that Rhode Island has seen 769 hospitalizations since the department began tracking confirmed influenza cases on October 1, 2012. That number reflects a higher total number of hospitalizations for influenza than initially reported, as HEALTH's staff has re-evaluated data reported by the state's hospitals.

"Our original count of hospitalizations did not include some individuals who went to the emergency department with flu-like symptoms, who were later confirmed to have flu and admitted to the hospital," said Dr. Fine. "These numbers further confirm HEALTH's message: Influenza is a serious illness and it is important for us to protect each other by getting immunized."

According to reports made to HEALTH by providers and pharmacies, 470,449 Rhode Islanders have been vaccinated against influenza to date. Since December 10, 2012, 7,846 people have been seen at emergency departments throughout the state for flu-like illness.


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