An early spike in flu cases around Ohio has healthcare officials stressing the importance of protection against the virus.
This week is not only National Handwashing Awareness Week it's also National Flu Vaccine Week. Which acts a perfect time to remind residents how good hygiene can prevent the spread of the flu virus. Health officials say it could be a rough flu season.
"They are seeing a higher number of cases this year sooner than they have in years past, according to our boss it's more cases than they've seen since 2003," said Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department Pediatric Immunizations Coordinator, Jamie Heinzman.
This year Ohio has already jumped to "regional" flu activity, which usually doesn't happen until February. The health department says there is a good explanation for why flu activity has increased.
"Last year it wasn't so bad because so many people got vaccinated last so there wasn't a bad flu outbreak so this year people didn't think they needed the flu shot so they didn't get it early on and now we're seeing people who didn't get it early on probably are getting it," said Heinzman.
The Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department is still offering free flu shots to Muskingum County residents 18 and over.