Jan 4, 2017 (COUNTY NEWS SERVICE) Is getting a flu shot one of your New Year’s resolutions?
It should be. Influenza continues to sicken more people across the region and the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases reported last week is elevated.
“It is not too late to get a flu shot. The flu vaccine is well matched to the viruses that are circulating,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Influenza season may last as late as April or May.”
For the week ending December 31, 2016, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:
- Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 4 percent the previous week)
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 292 (up from 149 the previous week)
- Total influenza deaths to date: 5 (compared to 3 at this time last season)
- Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 881 (compared to 313 at this time last season)
How to Prevent the Flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.
Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:
- People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
- Pregnant women
- People 65 years and older
- People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk
In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:
- Wash hands thoroughly and often
- Use hand sanitizers
- Stay away from sick people
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean commonly touched surfaces
- If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others
The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.