As the flu season continues to drag on so much, it’s causing a change in protocol in Fresno County.
The Fresno County Department of Health announced Wednesday that unvaccinated staff in hospitals and urgent care facilities must now wear a flu mask until April 30. Usually, the requirement only stands until March 31, since by now we’d usually be sneezing away flu season.
“The flu season tends to slow down by the end of March,” said Leticia Berber, one of the health department’s health educators.
But during the current season, news of a spike in cases has been common — with new cases still popping up.
“Back when I was on-service [recently], we had at least half a dozen kids over a week [with] Influenza A,” said Dr. Matthew Hadeed, health sceinces clinical professor at UCSF in Fresno.
To continue protecting health care workers coming in contact with patients potentially with the flu, the health department extended the flu mask requirement an extra month.
Berber said the masks aren’t just meant to protect staff.
“In case [staff] have those illnesses, those symptoms, they won’t pass that virus onto individuals who are weak — such as our elderly and [children],” she said.
Berber maintains the biggest protection against the flu is getting the vaccine, but if you get it now don’t expect a pass come October when the next flu season starts.
The vaccine is free to get at the health department.
The health department will again assess things after April 30, to see if the masking requirement will end or be extended again.
Berber said flu seasons can last until May.