The onset of the flu season is nothing to take lightly in Northeast Ohio and across the country.
As of February 12, 1,359 individuals suffering from symptoms of influenza had been admitted as patients to Cleveland Clinic and its regional hospitals — the highest number of inpatients we’ve seen in recent years. Nationally, over 17,101 people have been hospitalized, many suffering from influenza A(H3N2), the most frequently reported subtype of influenza this season. According to the CDC, 63 children have died from the flu since October 1, 2017.
According to Dr. Susan Rehm, vice chair of the Department of Infectious Disease at Cleveland Clinic, “The flu is predictably unpredictable. Are we at the peak yet? That’s really something we can only say after” the season ends.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends annual seasonal flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older, including children and adolescents.
The good news is that those experiencing non-emergency flu symptoms don’t have to brave the elements to seek diagnosis or treatment. A telemedicine service — Cleveland Clinic Express Care Online — brings healthcare directly to the patient, wherever they are, via smartphone, tablet or computer. So far this flu season, we estimate Cleveland Clinic providers have seen 191 flu patients through Express Care Online. Plus, the expense — $49.00, which is covered by many medical plans — is less than the normal cost of urgent care or emergency room visit.
Key benefits of the Express Care Online option are that patients save the time and effort of driving to a medical center, and they avoid spreading the flu to other people. Since most people diagnosed with flu are treated with bed rest, fluids and over-the-counter medications, an in-person visit may not be necessary.
Express Care Online may be accessed through the Express Care app, which can be used to diagnose and treat a variety of injuries and illnesses, including the flu.