With the holiday season upon us, family and friends are gathering for celebrations. The Denton County Health Department is reminding residents to prevent spreading flu during the festivities by getting a flu shot now.
It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to be fully effective, so health officials are urging residents to be prepared.
“Denton County is currently experiencing moderate flu activity,” says Juan Rodriguez, Denton County Health Department Chief Epidemiologist. “In addition, we are seeing that the southern states, including Texas, are leading the season this year.
"Texas is already experiencing high levels of flu-like illness. The good news is that this year’s vaccine appears to be a good match to the circulating strains.”
Getting vaccinated means you will not only protect yourself, but you will help prevent the flu in those who are at highest risk of complications from the illness, including these groups:
· Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 (Note: babies younger than 6 months are too young for the vaccine, and therefore are especially vulnerable.)
· Adults over the age of 65
· Pregnant women
· People with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and morbid obesity
· American Indians and Alaskan Natives
· People living with or caring for high risk individuals
National Influenza Vaccination Week, which runs December 9-13, highlights the importance of flu vaccination.
Residents are encouraged to take part by getting a free flu shot at one of the Denton County Health Department clinics in Lewisville or Denton.
Vaccines for all age groups that are able to be immunized are still available, including the new quadrivalent shot, and the high dose flu shot, specifically made for those 65 years of age and older.
Those 65 years and older should also consider the pneumonia vaccine, which is available as well.
Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, but here are some other ways you and your family can stay healthy this flu season:
· Wash your hands often – Use soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you cannot wash your hands. This is the easiest way to stop the spread of germs.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – Some germs can live for 2 hours or more on surfaces like door knobs, desks, and tables.
· Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing – Always cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away to prevent the spread of the germs. If you don’t have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze into the crease of your elbow.
· Stay home when you feel sick – Stay home from work, stores, and public places, and keep sick kids home from school or daycare.
· Try to avoid close contact with sick people – and try to avoid contact with others when you are sick.
· Practice good health habits – Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
Visit DCHD’s Immunizations website (www.dentoncounty.com/immunizations) for more information on vaccinations offered. Visit the U.S. Health and Human Services flu website (www.flu.gov), or the CDC flu website (www.cdc.gov/flu) for details about flu symptoms, treatment, prevention tips, vaccination, and other flu topics. You can also get updates though Twitter from both agencies by following @CDCFlu or @FluGov.
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