Health

Holidays Typically Bring More Influenza Cases

Flu-Vaccination-BalckMan

The holidays are just around the corner and, chances are, so are more influenza cases.

That is because when people travel and gather in groups, they make it easier for the flu to spread.

“The holiday season is when family and friends get together, and those gatherings and celebrations are also opportunities for people to get sick and make others ill,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The best protection against the flu is getting vaccinated. Do it now before the flu starts to spread and so that you are protected at Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings.”

More flu cases are being reported now compared to this same point in recent years in San Diego and in other southern California counties, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that current flu activity is low across the United States.

For the week ending Nov. 4, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 2 percent of all visits (up from 1 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 67 (up from 32 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 2 (compared to 1 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 384 (compared to 121 at same time last season)

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:

  • People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

 

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact