With the first day of winter scheduled for Thursday, Randolph County Health Department Administrator Stephanie Martin warned this year's flu season could be deadlier worldwide than most.
Speaking to the Randolph County Board of Commissioners during last Friday's regular meeting, Martin said between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die each year from flu-related respiratory illnesses.
That is higher than the previous estimate of 250,000 to 500,000 and based on a multinational survey. The estimates exclude deaths due to pandemics.
"The new flu vaccine is not as effective as they would have hoped," Martin said. "The estimates are higher than ever before."
A total of 47 countries contributed to the effort. Researchers calculated annual seasonal influenza-associated respiratory deaths for 33 of those countries (57 percent of the world's population) that had death records and seasonal influenza surveillance information for a minimum of four years between 1999 and 2015.
Statistical modeling with those results was used to generate an estimate of the number of flu-associated respiratory deaths for 185 countries across the world. Data from the other 14 countries were used to validate the estimates of seasonal influenza-associated respiratory death from the statistical models.
Results showed people over age 75 and those living in sub-Saharan African countries experienced the highest rates of flu-related respiratory deaths.
Martin noted the health department still has high-dose vaccines available.
"Even if you get sick, (the vaccine) can determine how severe it is," she said, adding that it is important to wash your hands as much as possible during flu season.
While perusing the list of the health department's claims for the period, Board Chairman Ronnie White asked about a $700 claim from the Illinois Department of Public Health Administrators.
Martin explained that it is annual dues to the organization.
In other health department news, Martin noted the Vaccines for Children program is ending on December 31 due to the Affordable Care Act.
"The Vaccines for Children program began as a way to help public aid children," Martin. "Due to changes to vaccine requirements and the ACA, we don't have uninsured children with that and the amount of uninsurers is quickly fading."
• The commissioners approved the annual resolution for motor fuel tax funds for highway maintenance which awarded two bids of $25,770 and $17,980 to Beelman Logistics for both the rock and hauling it. A third bid from Beelman of $26,970 was rejected as it did not include the cost of the rock.
• General assistance for the period was $1,100.31. The Randolph County Care Center had 67 residents.
• The commissioners approved a $3,000 repair claim for deer hits to police cars.
• The commissioners approved the annual appellate prosecutor resolution, which helps the county if it has appeals. The county's fiscal year 2018 appropriation of $12,000 is the same as FY17.
• The commissioners approved the quarterly meeting dates of Jan. 12 and 26, Feb. 9 and 23 and March 9 at 23. All at 9 a.m.
• The commissioners approved the holiday schedule for 2018 and a raffle license for Friends for St. Leos.
• The next meeting of the commissioners is scheduled for December 29 at 9 a.m.