It’s already proving to be an intense flu season at many Michigan hospitals.
“It’s been a very heavy season so far. We’ve had about four times the normal number of flu cases as we had at this time in previous years,” says Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont hospitals.
Other hospitals in the region are reporting a similar spike.
Sims said this is likely driven by a number of factors, from normal yearly fluctuations (the last three flu seasons have been relatively mild) to weather patterns.
But there’s also been some “drift” in the virus this year—meaning that some of the strains going around aren’t good matches for this year’s flu vaccine.
Still, Sims says it’s worthwhile to get that flu shot. “There’s at least some evidence that if you have the flu vaccine, even if it’s not a perfect match, what it might do is sort of attenuate the symptoms, so you don’t have as bad an infection,” he said.
To help contain infection and protect staff, Beaumont announced new visitation policies this week. Children under 13 and anyone with flu-like symptoms may not visit patients at the health system’s three Metro Detroit hospitals.