CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Friday, Miami University became the first Tri-State college to confirm a flu outbreak, but doctors warn other schools may not be far behind.
This flu season, H3N2 appears to be the dominant strain. The last time that happened was during the 2017-18 flu season, which resulted in almost 80,000 deaths and almost 960,000 hospitalizations.
"And what's concerning is that would be on top of a continued plateau, if not slightly increasing, cases of COVID-19," said Dr. Stephen Feagins, chief clinical officer at Mercy Health.
As of last week, Ohio health officials were reporting a flu positivity rate of just 1.5% in Southwest Ohio. But 174 students at Miami University have now been infected, and one of them is in the hospital.
Earlier this year, the University of Cincinnati began requiring all full-time students to get the flu vaccine, which may pay off since Dr. Feagins said classrooms and dorms could potentially become breeding grounds for flu.
"Influenza, like any respiratory virus, can certainly have an outbreak when there's close proximity," he said.
At Hart Pharmacy, co-owner Eric Gillespie said they weren't initially prepared for all the flu shot requests they were getting at the start of flu season.
"It kind of caught us a little off guard," he said.
"We're at least 25% more than we were going back two years," he added.
It's impossible to know for sure why, but Gillespie thinks it may have something to do with all of the extra foot traffic they're getting from people interested in the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We definitely have seen some people who, you know, sort of just casually ask, 'Can I get the flu shot while I'm here?'" he said.