For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.276.1021
Reno, NV - While only just six weeks into the official flu season, Washoe County health officials report higher numbers of laboratory confirmed cases of influenza compared to last year.
In addition to the high number of lab-confirmed cases, other statistics point to a potentially severe flu season on the horizon: 1) the total number of deaths associated with pneumonia and influenza locally last week was 6.4%, just below the epidemic threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which is 6.6%; and, 2) the dominant strain in both Washoe County and the nation is influenza A(H3), a particularly virulent strain. Washoe County Health District's full Influenza Surveillance Program Weekly Reports can be found at http://tinyurl.com/z7d2vso.
"The current flu statistics are another reminder of the importance of getting a flu shot," said Washoe County Health District Communications Manager, Phil Ulibarri. "We know that Nevadans in general have the lowest flu vaccination rate in the country. Early season flu deaths, high flu activity, and low immunization rates all point to a severe flu season ahead. Anyone who hasn't gotten a shot yet should consider getting one as soon as possible," Ulibarri said. According to CDC estimates, last season Nevada had the lowest flu immunization rate in the country with only 37% of the population getting vaccinated. It's also important to remember that CDC recommends a flu vaccine every year, so even if you were vaccinated last year you should get a shot this season.
Ulibarri also says that the cold weather and holiday season add to the risk of catching the flu. "When the weather gets colder people stay indoors and in closer proximity to one another, and with holiday functions people are often in large gatherings with others. If you think about the fact that two out of every three people you meet have not been immunized for the flu, you begin to understand the risk you're putting yourself at for catching the flu yourself if you haven't been immunized either."
Flu immunizations usually take about two weeks to reach full potency, so it is advisable to get a shot in advance of social functions and travel that will put you in proximity of large numbers of people. Finding a location to get a vaccination is easy. Most pharmacies now offer shots (and will accept insurance). Your health care provider and the Health District (call 775-328-2402 for appointments) can also provide vaccinations. Other locations can be found at Immunize Nevada's Flu site at https://www.immunizenevada.org/community/where-go.