For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.772.1659
RENO, NV - At least eight Washoe County elementary and middle schools are reporting surges in students missing classes due to the flu or influenza like illnesses (ILI). According to health officials the increase reflects an upward trend in flu activity across the United States and may signify a second peak for influenza infections during the 2018/19 season.
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that influenza is currently widespread across the United States. Here in Washoe County school-age children are experiencing the greatest levels of ILI activity. These factors have health officials urging everyone to get a flu shot and practice other preventive measures to protect themselves and others from the flu.
“Your best protection against the flu is a flu shot,” said Washoe County Board of Health Chairman Dr. John Novak. “Recent reports show that overall, the seasonal flu vaccine has reduced the risk of getting sick with flu and having to go to the doctor by almost half (47%). And, among children under 18, the seasonal flu vaccine has reduced the risk of getting sick with flu and having to go to the doctor by almost two-thirds (61%). With such a good protection rate everyone should get a shot,” Novak said.
Even though the vaccine is not 100% effective, it is estimated to prevent millions of illnesses, tens of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths each year. During last year’s 2017–18 influenza season, vaccination was estimated to prevent 7.1 million illnesses, 3.7 million medical visits, 109,000 hospitalizations, and 8,000 deaths.
Novak points out that there are still almost three months left to the 2018/19 flu season so it’s not too late to get a flu shot. “Flu season generally runs through May every year and vaccine is still available at pharmacies, through health care providers, and at the Washoe County Health District. The Health District is even sponsoring a free flu shot clinic at a Family Health Festival at Sparks Middle School on March 7, so there really is no reason a person should not get a shot,” Novak said.
Other prevention methods to protect against the flu include:
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough into the sleeve of your shirt,
- Wash your hands frequently,
- Clean environmental and commonly touched surfaces regularly with a disinfectant, and
- Stay home from work, school and social events when you’re sick.
Here in Washoe County influenza activity has been increasing over the past few weeks. National forecasting also suggests that flu activity is likely to increase and that there is about a 70% chance that the flu season has not yet peaked. Annual vaccination against seasonal influenza is recommended for all persons older than 6 months.
For more information about immunizations for the flu and other communicable diseases go to https://www.washoecounty.us/health/programs-and-services/cchs/immunization-program/index.php. To make an appointment for an immunization call 328-2402, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Appointments are required for immunizations.
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