INDIANAPOLIS — Central Indiana health officials announced visitor restrictions Monday in the wake of rising flu cases. The restrictions take effect immediately as of Dec. 5, 2022.
Marion County Public Health Department Director and Chief Medical Officer Virginia A. Caine, M.D. requested that hospitals in Marion County begin temporary restrictions for visitors.
Temporary visitor restrictions at all Marion County hospitals include:
- No visitors with flu symptoms
- No visitors under the age of 18
- Visitors are limited to two immediate family members as identified by the patient
- Masks will be required for all visitors
The hospitals requiring these restrictions include facilities within Community Health Network, Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Ascension St. Vincent, Indiana University Health and Eskenazi Health.
Visitors should check with a hospital’s website or call the facility in advance to learn more about its specific restrictions and any exceptions unique to that facility. Exceptions may be made for visitors or younger visitors based on circumstances, such as end of life.
“Flu is hitting Marion County hard right now and much earlier than it has in recent years,” said Dr. Caine. “Along with recommending the flu vaccine and encouraging frequent handwashing, these restrictions are part of a multi-faceted effort to help protect the most vulnerable patients in our community from the flu virus, which can cause significant illness and, in certain cases, lead to extended hospitalization or death.”
As an example, Marion County emergency departments saw the highest flu rates in 10 years during the week of Thanksgiving. The flu rate was highest among the 5-17 age group, according to MCPHD.
RELATED: CDC Indiana county flu map
On Monday night, hundreds showed up at a pop-up vaccine clinic at Martin University.
“I am diabetic. I always like to have my flu shot and I just want to make sure I don’t catch COVID again,” said Christina Shirley, who got both vaccines.
Martin University partnered with Light of the World Christian Church and IU Health to offer COVID-19 boosters and flu vaccines for anyone six months or older. Those who received a booster shot also got a $50 gift card.
“I just want to make sure that they are safe and healthy,” said Leisha Bester, who brought her five kids to get their flu shots.
Flu is circulating along with other respiratory viruses including COVID-19 and RSV. The predominant strain of flu currently circulating is the influenza H3N2 strain, which typically causes hospitalizations and deaths in the very young or those over age 65.
Anyone age 6 months or older is urged to get a flu shot as the first and most important step for protecting against flu viruses. Marion County offers low-cost flu vaccines at its district health offices and the ACTION Health Center if you make an appointment. Flu shots are $20 for adults and children ages 2-18, and shots are free for children younger than 2.
For locations and hours of the district health offices and ACTION Health Center, call the Marion County Public Health Department’s immunization program at 317-221-2122 or visit MarionHealth.org/immunize.
Visitor restrictions in effect outside Marion County
Additional IU Health and Community Health Network facilities outside Marion County are restricting visitors, as well:
- Community Howard Regional Health in Kokomo – Dec. 5
- Community Hospital Anderson – Dec. 5
- IU Health North Hospital – Dec. 5
- IU Health West Hospital – Dec. 5
- IU Health Saxony Hospital – Dec. 5
- IU Health Tipton Hospital – Dec. 5
- IU Health Arnett Hospital – Dec. 6
- IU Health Frankfort Hospital – Dec. 6
- IU Health White Memorial Hospital – Dec. 6
Community Health Network facilities outside Marion County require masks on visitors if requested by the patient.
IU Health requires masking for everybody involved in patient encounters.
Light of the World Christian Church is hosting another vaccine clinic on Dec. 17 at Glick Community Center during the Black Business Bazaar.