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12/5/2013

Flu shots are the best way to prevent spread of flu during the holidays

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

Vancouver, WA – Flu season has been mild so far, but that could change quickly. As people board planes, trains and buses to visit family and friends during the holidays, germs have ample opportunity to spread.

“If you haven’t received your flu shot yet, please don’t wait,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer. “By getting vaccinated now, you’ll develop flu antibodies within two weeks, making it more likely you’ll enjoy a healthy holiday season. If you’ve ever had the flu, you’ll agree that it’s well worth contacting your doctor or pharmacy for a shot.”

Influenza is a serious illness that kills thousands of Americans every year. Flu season usually lasts through May but peaks sometime between January and March, although every season is different. For information about the current flu season, see Public Health’s weekly Influenza Surveillance Report at http://www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/diseases/flu.html.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone six months and older as the most important step to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications. Vaccination with a live, nasal-spray flu vaccine (FluMist) is an option for people between two and 49 who are healthy and not pregnant.

People at greatest risk of complications from flu are especially urged to get vaccinated. They are young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease and long-term health conditions.

While flu shots are the best way to prevent flu, people can reduce the spread of disease by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently, and staying home when sick.

National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 8-14, is observed annually to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

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