For Immediate Release:
December 07, 2010
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 vaccine.
"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 its 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:
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 include:
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: LAPublicHealth.