As winter officially begins on Dec. 21, flu season is already in full swing and for those who want to combat the illness before it starts, this week is as good as any to do so.
The Center for Disease Control deemed this week National Influenza Vaccination Week, in the hope of reminding people that it’s not too late to receive the flu vaccine. The designated flu shot week kicked off Monday and runs through Dec. 10.
The CDC urges anyone over six months old to receive the shot, which helps ward off flu-like symptoms.
“Flu season most often peaks between December and March, but activity can occur as late as May,” said Dr. Dan Jernigan, CDC director of the Influenza Division. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now.”
The CDC said that it takes around two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body.
So far, Desert View Hospital hasn’t seen a large influx of flu-related visits, something that could pick up next month.
“We’ve had very few flu cases so far,” said Gretchen Papez, Desert View Hospital spokesperson. “Historically, Desert View Hospital begins to see more flu cases in January.”
Despite the low occurrence so far in the county, the flu season, which kicked off in October, has already claimed three lives in Nevada, two in Washoe County and one in Clark County. With flu-related deaths already occurring in the state, one official hopes that those who have yet to get the shot will think again.
“As evidenced by the deaths we’ve already had in Nevada, the flu is not just a bad cold or headache,” said Heidi Parker, Immunize Nevada executive director. “Years of research have shown that the flu vaccination is the best way of preventing the flu — for ourselves, our family members and anyone we interact with in our daily lives.”
Those that are considered high risk for serious flu-related complications which can lead to hospitalization and even death are especially urged to receive the vaccination.
High-risk individuals include pregnant women, children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old, people 65 year of age and older, and people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
Those who care for anyone who is considered high risk, it’s also important to get vaccinated, according to Immunize Nevada.
“Seasonal flu vaccines are your best protection against getting the flu,” Parker said. “Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine can literally save your life or the life of someone you love.”
Flu symptoms include:
■ A fever of 100 degrees or higher
■ A cough and/or sore throat
■ A runny or stuffy nose
■ Headaches and/or body aches
Parker explained that Nevada has multiple options for no-cost flu vaccinations and that Immunize Nevada offers the “Flu Vaccine Finder” on its website, www.influencenevada.org.
The feature allows Nevadans to generate a list of locations nearby offering flu vaccine by inputting their zip code.
For details about flu vaccine, statistics, logic, flu prevention strategies and vaccination clinics, follow Immunize Nevada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Or visit www.influencenevada.org for more information.
Contact reporter Mick Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.