Local doctor stresses the importance of flu prevention

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With the flu widespread in the majority of the United States, including in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, local doctors are stressing the importance of flu prevention.

Meeting Street’s Medical Director Robert Griffith joined us live on the WPRI 12 Facebook page Friday and provided tips for those afraid of getting sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this year’s flu strain, H3N2, tends to cause more severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

“Unfortunately, the H3N2 varient of the flu is quite prevalent,” Griffith said. “High fever, horrible cough, horrible headache, muscle aches, congestion. You feel horrible.”

As a result of the flu being widespread, hospitals in Rhode Island are seeing a spike in patients with symptoms, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Griffith’s best advice to parents sending children to school is to have their kids stay home if they’re sick to avoid spreading the illness. He also said to make sure kids know how to wash their hands and keep their hands away from their face.

“Try to avoid at any time touching your nose, touching your eyes, touching your mouth,” Griffith said. “The flu virus tends to live on surfaces for a while.”

Griffith also stressed making sure you are vaccinated against the flu every year.

“You’re not only protecting them, you’re protecting your grandmother and your new born baby, because that’s how you’re going to spread it,” he said.

Griffith advised anyone who has flu-like symptoms to call their primary care doctor first, and to visit the emergency room if symptoms are more severe.

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.

The health department 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.