With another flu season ahead of us, officials at Berkeley and Jefferson Medical Centers are advising visitors to follow a new set of temporary guidelines.
This comes after a number of confirmed flu cases at area hospitals. Health officials say they need cooperation from people at home to prevent any more.
“All across the country, people were noticing family members were coming in who had similar symptoms to their family members,” said Dr. Matthew Simmons, Medical Director of Infection Control for the Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg and the Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson. “And they would be sitting in waiting rooms, down in kitchens, cafeterias, places like that, and people would be getting exposed.”
Berkeley and Jefferson Medical Centers are advising children under the age of 12 and anyone showing flu-like symptoms to not visit people at the hospital. While precautions are in place to prevent the spread of the flu virus, Dr. Simmons says this year’s influenza vaccine is a better match than in previous years.
“So when we say it’s a good match, the virus that’s prepared to put in the vaccine, the dead virus, it’s a very good match for the virus that’s circulating, so it’s genetically similar that you”ll be protected by it,” he said.
Which could mean a number of things.
“It could be a good sign that the vaccine is really working, so people aren’t getting the flu,” said Dr. Simmons. “It could also be that it’s spreading a little more slowly.”
Hospitals also want to set the record straight on a few popular misconceptions. “It can’t make you sick. You’ll feel maybe rough the day or two afterwards, but that’s a good sign. That means your immune system sees the blueprint that’s been offered, and it’s actually replicating and treating it like a real infection, so that it can produce antibiotics,” he said.
According to the CDC, there have been approximately 35 cases at Berkeley Medical Center and approximately five at Jefferson Medical Center.
Hospital staff at WVU Medicine also state that visitation in all areas will be limited to no more than two visitors at a time, in addition to the guest for decision making and support.