URI flu cases impact Rhode Island’s Department of Health data

KINGSTON, R.I. (WLNE)- A flu outbreak at the University of Rhode Island has caused a slight increase in the state’s flu data.

Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said the data is showing that this year, Rhode Island’s ‘influenza like activity’ is higher than other New England states, as well as the rest of the country.

As the flu season begins, officials at URI say they are seeing the outbreak beginning earlier than they anticipated.

“We did see an increase in influenza over the past few weeks”, Dave Lavallee, a spokesperson for URI shared, “It’s very common for a non-COVID year.”

He emphasized that due to remote learning last year there was much less chance of exposure compared to this year.

The Department of Health said URI has seen four flu-associated hospitalizations during this flu season. Wendelken told ABC6 News only 21% of the state has been vaccinated this year for the flu.

The RI Department of Health urges people to get the vaccine, stating the importance for people who are:

  • Pregnant
  • 65 or older
  • Young children
  • Those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma
  • Healthcare workers
  • Anyone who lives with or cares for those at a high risk for flu-related complications

Wendelken explained that you do not need health insurance to get the flu shot, and they are available in every community in Rhode Island from pharmacies, school run clinics, and primary care providers.

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island, Your Health