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1/9/2013

Rising tide of flu cases prompts renewed call for shots in Clark County

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Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer
Phone: (360) 397-8412
alan.melnick@clark.wa.gov

Vancouver, WA— Flu cases are high in Washington and throughout much of the nation. The number in Clark County has risen sharply in recent weeks, well above levels at this time the last three seasons. (For comparison, see Public Health’s weekly Influenza Surveillance Report at http://www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/diseases/flu.html.)

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer. “If you get vaccinated now, you’ll get protection within two weeks. Sparing yourself from flu’s unpleasant and sometimes severe symptoms is well worth contacting your doctor or pharmacy for a shot. Sadly, we’ve already seen several deaths in Washington from flu. It’s a serious illness, but it’s vaccine-preventable.”

Each year, thousands of people in the U.S. die from seasonal flu. People with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. Those symptoms are more common in children.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot each year. People at greater risk of complications are especially urged to get vaccinated. They include children younger than 5, particularly children younger than 2, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease and others. High-risk individuals with flu symptoms should contact a health care provider, who may recommend antiviral treatment.

Other ways to prevent catching and spreading flu include:
• Cover your nose and mouth with your arm or with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick, stay home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Flu season varies from year to year but typically peaks between February and April. Additional flu information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/.

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