Due to the severity of the flu season, Carroll Hospital is instigating new visiting rules effective Thursday, according to a news release.
The Carroll County Health Department, meanwhile, is responding by offering additional, previously unscheduled flu clinics for children.
Beginning Thursday at Carroll Hospital, visitors younger than 14 will no longer be permitted in the hospital, except for siblings visiting the Family Birthplace, according to the news release.
Additionally, only two visitors will be allowed to see any patient at one time and visitors with a cough or fever will be asked to stay out of the hospital, per the release.
This policy change is necessary to protect the health of Carroll Hospital patients, staff and visitors, according to the release.
Although the intensity of the flu season in Maryland had been considered low as recently has the week of Jan. 6, according to Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports, the severity of the illness in those who contract it and its geographic spread have ticked up sharply over the past two weeks.
There were 246 laboratory confirmed cases of flu during the week of Jan. 20, the most recent week for which the state has statistics, compared to 208 cases the week of Jan. 13. There were also 2,331 visits to emergency rooms for flu-like symptoms the week of Jan. 20, up from 1,888 the previous week, although hospitalizations for the flu did decrease from 296 cases the week of Jan. 13, to 212 the week of Jan. 20.
It is not to late to get a flu shot, however, according to a Carroll County Health Department news release. The agency will be hosting free flu shot clinics for children ages 6 months through 18 beginning from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, at its 290 S. Center St., Westminster location. Adults may also pay to receive a vaccination on a sliding scale.
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For more information on the flu or where to get a vaccination, visit cchd.maryland.gov/flu.