The 2013-14 flu season has begun, and health officials are seeing an increase in flu activity.
San Joaquin County Health Officer Dr. Karen Furst is urging those who have not done so already to get their annual flu vaccine now. It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for full immunity to take effect, and winter holiday activities and gatherings are prime opportunities for flu viruses to spread, she said in a news release.
Health officials recommend that the single best way to prevent the flu is for everyone six months and older to get the annual influenza vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine now will provide protection for the full season.
The flu is an infection of the respiratory system that causes fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches.
Most people who get the flu can treat their symptoms at home with rest and medication. But some, including young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions and weakened immune systems, may be more vulnerable and at higher risk of developing flu-related complications such as pneumonia that can lead to hospitalization or even death.
Vaccination is also important for health care workers and those who live with or care for people at higher risk for flu-related complications.
While there are many different influenza viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the strains of influenza that research suggests will be most common each year. There are two primary ways to get flu vaccine: the injection and the nasal spray.
Besides doctor’s offices, seasonal flu vaccines are offered in many locations including clinics, neighborhood pharmacies, college health centers, public health departments, many employers and even some schools. To find immunization clinic sites that are convenient for you, visit www.flu.gov and use the Flu Vaccine Finder.
San Joaquin County Public Health Services provides the flu vaccine during its regular immunization clinic hours, for people of all ages who do not have a regular source of medical care that provides the vaccine. The fee is $17; however, no one will be denied services due to inability to pay. For more information, including clinic days and hours, call 800-839-4949 or visit www.sjcphs.org.