Flu now ‘widespread’ across Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’ve noticed an increase in sick calls at school or work, you’re probably not alone.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced Wednesday that the flu is “widespread” in Rhode Island.

RIDOH said this triggers the state’s requirement for unvaccinated healthcare workers in hospitals and other healthcare facilities to wear surgical masks when working with patients.

“The masking requirement is critical in protecting healthcare workers from catching the flu, and also in protecting patients who are often dealing with other serious health issues,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott. “For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it is not too late. The flu vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and the people you love safe from the flu.”

In addition, RIDOH said all licensed EMS practitioners who have not been vaccinated must wear the masks when working with patients as well.

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, head and body aches, fatigue and runny nose. In some cases, some people experience vomiting and diarrhea.

RIDOH suggests everyone older than six months should be vaccinated against the flu each year. The vaccination is most important for pregnant women, people over the age of 50, nursing or group home residents and people with chronic conditions.

Flu shots are available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies throughout the state.