Flu dips; free vaccination set
BY PAULA WOLF, Staff Writer
In a possible sign the flu epidemic has peaked in Pennsylvania, the number of new cases last week fell from the previous week -- the first time that's happened in more than two months.
There were 4,903 confirmed flu infections Jan. 13-19, down from 5,069 the week before. In Lancaster County, the number of cases this season is now 830.
However, the public isn't out of the woods yet, with the state Department of Health still characterizing flu activity as widespread and strongly encouraging people to get vaccinated.
While flu-related hospitalizations statewide dropped from 577 to 480, the health department reported that 35 more people died from influenza last week, bringing the total to 75. None of the new deaths was in Lancaster County, which has three flu-related fatalities to date.
"The incidence of flu has been lessening," Lancaster General Health spokeswoman Frieda Schmidt wrote Tuesday in an email.
"For example, in the first week of January, the number of patients hospitalized for the flu was 26. Today, there are 11 inpatients.
"For outpatients in the emergency department, the second week of January peaked at 225, or 9 percent of visits."
The following week, "the number of people visiting the emergency department with flulike complaints was 151, or 6.4 percent of the ED visits," Schmidt said in the email.
Also, in partnership with the state Department of Health, Lancaster General Health and School District of Lancaster will provide free flu vaccinations for infants and adults ages 6 months and older from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at McCaskey East High School, 1051 Lehigh Ave. Appointments aren't required. Supplies, however, are limited to 1,000 doses.