The California Department of Public Health is encouraging Californians to get the influenza vaccine to ward off the virus during the upcoming season.
"Getting vaccinated is the best line of defense against flu," said Acting State Public Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean. "Vaccination will help you stay healthy for work or school, avoid visits to the doctor or hospitalization, and protect others from coming down with the flu."
In California, flu usually begins to increase in late November or December. It takes a couple of weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity, so now is the time to get vaccinated to have the best protection now the flu season has started.
Each year, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and, sometimes, thousands or tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. It’s too early for health officials to say with any degree of certainty what this flu season will look like, but already California has recorded three influenza-related deaths — far earlier than in previous years.
To reduce the risk of influenza, CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. While anyone can get flu, pregnant women, children under five, adults 65 years of age and older, and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease and asthma are particularly at risk for flu-related complications. Flu shots are needed every year to maintain the greatest protection because the vaccine changes each season to match the circulating viruses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the 2017–2018 season, flu immunization prevented an estimated seven million illnesses and 8,000 deaths in the United States.
Flu vaccines are administered as a shot or nasal spray. For the 2019-20 flu season, the CDC recommends vaccination with no preference for any one vaccine type over another.
Common symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, you should also:
· Stay home while sick and limit contact with others
· Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or disposable tissue
· Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
CDPH encourages Californians to contact their health care provider, physician’s office, clinic or pharmacy about obtaining the flu vaccine. Some local health departments may also offer low- or no-cost flu immunizations.