Peak Flu Season Is in January and February
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wed, Jan. 03, 2007
By Erika Jenssen, MPH
"I never get flu shots because I never get the flu and the shot might make me sick," my friend told me when I tried to get her to come to one of the county's ongoing flu clinics. After all, she is a healthy adult and rarely gets sick from the seasonal flu.
However, she has young nephews, and flu shots are really to protect them. The very young and elderly are much more vulnerable to developing deadly flu complications. Even if my friend doesn't get that sick, she could pass it on to her nephews.
Every year, influenza kills 36,000 people in the United States. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.
The symptoms vary from just a mild cough or the sniffles to heavy cough, high fever and severe body aches.
Getting a flu vaccination every year is the single best way to protect yourself, your family and anyone in your care.
The flu season usually peaks in January and February so it's not too late to get vaccinated. There are still plenty of low-cost shots available at public health immunization clinics throughout the county or at your own health care provider.
Anyone 6 months or older may receive a flu shot, but people at risk of developing deadly flu complications or who work with at-risk groups should get vaccinated. At risk groups include:
People who have close contact with children under 5 should consider a shot, including siblings, parents, grandparents, and child care providers and baby sitters.
It's a myth that the flu vaccine causes the flu. The vaccine doesn't contain a live virus, and studies of thousands of vaccine recipients show fewer flu symptoms, not more, than unvaccinated people.
But, a few people do experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever or soreness in the arm, but they're much less severe than the flu. They also may have caught the flu before they were vaccinated or have some other infection. The vaccination takes two weeks to work.
Alternatively, healthy people ages 5-49 can opt for a nasal flu vaccination. The nasal vaccination isn't recommended for at-risk groups because it contains a live vaccine and has a slight risk of causing the flu.
The nasal vaccine is not available at county flu clinics. Check your local pharmacy or flumist.com.
Covering your mouth when coughing and washing your hands frequently can help prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses.
Flu shots are still available. County flu shot clinics operate on a first-come, first-served basis. No appointment is necessary, though they are closed on holidays.
Flu shots are $10, but no one will be denied a shot if they are unable to pay. For more information, visit Contra Costa Health Services' website or call 925-313-6469.
Jenssen is the immunization coordinator for Contra Costa Health Services. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.