Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Flu cases increasing; residents urged to get shots


For Immediate Release:
December 7, 2010

Not Too Late to Vaccinate
National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 6-10

LOS ANGELES - Those who want protection against influenza (flu) in time for end-of-year celebrations and gatherings are encouraged to get their flu vaccine during National Influenza Vaccination Week, December 6-10.

Los Angeles County is currently seeing a slight increase in cases of
influenza, including strains that were not included in vaccines from
previous seasons but can be protected against with this year's

"It is important for residents to get a new flu vaccine every season
to ensure continuous protection. A look at flu activity in LA County and across the nation finds that this year's vaccine is an excellent match in protecting against currently circulating flu strains," said
Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health
Officer. "National Influenza Vaccination Week is a great reminder that
it's not too late to vaccinate against the flu. This is a serious
illness, and getting either the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine is a safe and effective way to avoid influenza."

Influenza accounts for up to 200,000 hospitalizations and an average of
24,000 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of the flu include fever,
cough, headache, and muscle ache within the first three to five days of
illness, and can cause those who are ill to miss days of work or school,
with some seriously ill persons even requiring hospitalization.

Residents are encouraged to contact their regular doctor or health care
provider for recommended vaccinations. Those without health insurance or
a regular source of care can get flu vaccine at major pharmacies or
health clinics for a fee, or through a community clinic at no charge. A
list of community clinic locations, dates and times is available on the
Public Health website at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov or by calling the
LA County Information line at 2-1-1 or (800) 339-6993.

"Keep in mind that it takes approximately two weeks to develop full
immunity against the flu after you receive your vaccine. Therefore, we
encourage everyone who is eligible to get their flu vaccine as soon as
possible," said Dr. Fielding.

While influenza vaccine is now recommended for everyone (except infants
under six months of age), it is especially important that certain groups
make sure they are vaccinated because they are either at greater risk of
developing complications from the flu or because they live with or care
for others who are at greater risk of developing complications. These
groups are:
● Pregnant women;
● Children younger than five;
● Adults 50 years of age and older;
● People of any age with chronic medical conditions such as heart
disease or diabetes;
● People who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities; and
● People who live with, or care for, those persons at high-risk for
complications from the flu, including health care and day care workers.

Vaccine Safety
Flu vaccines are monitored every year for safety and have been shown to
have an excellent track record. They are available in single-dose as
well as multi-dose formulations. Side effects sometimes seen with the
flu shot include temporary redness, soreness, and/or swelling at the
injection site. Side effects associated with the nasal spray vaccine
include temporary nasal congestion.

Treating the Flu
Influenza can affect each person differently. Some individuals,
especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, may develop
severe symptoms that can require anti-viral medications or even
hospitalization or complications such as pneumonia.

"Others who get sick may be able to treat themselves at home with
over-the-counter medications, plenty of fluids, rest and not going to
work or school until at least 24 hours after their fever has passed,"
said Dr. Fielding. "If symptoms worsen or other symptoms develop, such
as difficulty breathing or prolonged vomiting, see a doctor."

Healthy Hygiene Habits
Everyone is urged to practice basic hygiene to help reduce the chances
of catching either the flu or other illnesses. These healthy habits
● Washing your hands frequently, especially after using the restroom
and before and after eating;
● Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you
cough or sneeze;
● Not touching your nose, mouth or eyes to prevent the spread of
germs; and
● Staying home from work or school when sick.

For information regarding low-cost flu vaccines through a health care
organization or other vaccination clinic, visit the Public Health
Immunization Program's website at
http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip or www.findaflushot.com. Or
call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1 or (800) 339-6993.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and
improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles
County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and
services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control,
and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000
employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more
about Public Health and the work we do, please visit
http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at
http://www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter:

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