For Immediate Release
Contact: Phil Ulibarri
775.328.2414 or 775.772.1659
The weather is changing, leaves are turning color and influenza cases are already being reported in Washoe County. Although the “official” start of the flu season according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isn’t until the first week of October, Week 40 on the annual calendar, the Washoe County Health District is urging everyone to take advantage of vaccine availability and get a flu shot now.
Numbers from the end-of-the-season influenza report for 2017/2018 show just how impactful, dangerous and deadly the flu is say local health officials. Statistics released from the Washoe County Health District 2017-18 Influenza Surveillance Report show that out of 5,521 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in Washoe County last flu season, 542 (10%) people were hospitalized (88 in ICU), and 26 people died. Another statistic of concern is that Nevadans have the worst influenza immunization rates in the country with only 33% of residents taking advantage of flu shots.
“Getting a flu shot is your best prevention against the flu,” says Washoe County District Board of Health Member Dr. George Hess. “Because our rates for flu shots are under 34%, that means that two out of every three people are unprotected and pose an increased risk of catching the disease and transmitting it to you,” Hess adds.
Flu shots are easy to get. For clinic locations visit www.influencenevada.org. Most pharmacies (even those in grocery and big box stores) offer vaccine and will accept insurance cards. Flu vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a copayment or billing coinsurance. The site also lists events where people can find free and reduced-cost vaccinations, like the Carson City Community Flu Clinic on October 6, and the Washoe County Family Health Festival on October 8. The Health District recommends that people take advantage of this service as soon as possible because although flu season officially begins the first week of October, flu cases are already being confirmed around the state and country.
Hess reminds people that it takes two weeks on average after receiving the vaccine for it to become fully effective. However, many people will realize benefits from the flu shot within just a few days. Getting a flu shot will reduce your chances of becoming sick with the flu and passing it along to others. No vaccine is 100% effective, but if you get a flu shot it can also reduce the severity of symptoms if you do catch the flu.
The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills; coughing; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; fatigue; and sometimes, vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. If you or someone you know is suffering some of these symptoms they should consider medical attention especially if they are at high risk of complications. Those include children under five years-old, adults 65 years-old or older, and pregnant women.
The single best way to avoid seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but there are other preventive measures everyone should practice to ward off the flu and other illnesses.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• When you are sick, keep your distance from others and stay home from work, school, and errands.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your sleeve when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
• Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
More information about influenza can be found at www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.
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