Saturday, May 18, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
January 22, 2013
Polk County and much of Oregon can consider themselves lucky when it comes to the 2012-13 influenza season.
The good news? The illness has, for the most part, been a nonfactor and few people have gotten sick.
The bad news? Oregon's flu season usually doesn't peak until February, sometimes March, and it typically runs through April, so we likely aren't out of the woods by any means quite yet. And experts say it is just a matter of time before flu viruses arrive in big numbers here.
While the rate of Oregonians reporting flu-like symptoms is on the rise, heralding an early start to the 2012-13 flu season, state health officials say this year's flu activity level remains moderate across the state.
And while much of the nation is dealing with one of the worst flu outbreaks in years, there's still time for you to prepare for the inevitable arrival of the crud bug here at home.
If you haven't already done so, get a flu shot -- though the supply of vaccine is running low at some locales. The Oregon Health Authority reports that more than 1.1 million doses of flu vaccine have been shipped to Oregon this flu season. Somewhere between 700,000 and 800,000 doses have been administered.
Another good reason to get a shot is this year's vaccine is reported to be a good match for the flu viruses that are circulating so far this year. State health officials say that more than 90 percent of viruses tested so far match the vaccine strains.
Polk County Public Health is still offering daily flu-shot clinics in Dallas. Many private physicians, medical clinics and West Valley Hospital give flu shots. Several local pharmacies also offer immunizations.
Putting off seasonal flu shots can be dangerous -- and even fatal. According to U.S. health statistics, seasonal flu hospitalizes about 200,000 Americans annually and kills about 36,000 people. The vaccine provides protection for individuals against the flu.
There are also other, common-sense preventive measures that can be taken to help reduce the risks of contracting the flu. Regularly wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, or cough and sneeze into you upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Clean and disinfect high-use objects and areas. Avoid close contact with sick individuals.
For those who unfortunately do come down with the flu or are feeling ill, here's some motherly advice: stay home and do not go to work, school or anywhere you will be in contact with people.
The annual flu season is inevitable. Getting the flu doesn't have to be. Take steps to protect yourself.
It's time to roll up your sleeves and prepare for a prick in the arm.