The start of Autumn means the start of influenza season, and public health officials say now is the best time—when the number of flu cases in Oregon is still low—to get vaccinated.
While it’s difficult to forecast exactly how bad the flu season will be this year, health officials say getting a flu shot is the best way to prepare for however it shapes up.
Flu is a virus that causes mild to severe respiratory illness and can lead to hospitalization. The virus kills thousands of people in the U.S. each year. People at higher risk of severe illness or death include children, adults older than 65, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions or weak immune systems.
The flu vaccine is the best protection against flu. It can take up to two weeks to become effective, so getting it earlier in the season is ideal. Vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Ways that we can all help prevent the flu:
* Stay home and limit contact with others if you are sick, including staying home from work or school when you are sick.
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue out when you are done.
* Wash hands with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
* Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may have flu germs on them.
* Avoid getting coughed and sneezed on.
Flu vaccine is available from health care providers, local health departments and many pharmacies. To find flu vaccine clinic, visit the OHA flu prevention website at http://www.flu.oregon.gov/ and use OHA’s flu vaccine locator tool.