Influenza activity is on the rise in Stanislaus County, according to the Health Services Agency.
Various health officials say there more and more reports of patients who are critically ill with influenza, including youth and adults.
According to the California Department of Public Heath, the H1N1 flu strain appears to be predominant strain circulating both statewide and in Stanislaus County.
The H1N1 virus, which emerged during the 2009 pandemic, causes more illness in children and young adults compared to older adults. However, it causes illness in all age groups.
This year’s flu vaccine protects against the strains circulating in the state.
“The flu vaccine is an important and safe way to protect yourself and your loved ones against influenza,” said Dr. John Walker, Stanislaus County Public Health Officer. “Unlike other vaccine preventable diseases, a flu shot is needed every year to ensure protection.”
People can still receive the flu vaccine and be protected this year. Typically, the flu season peaks in February and March in Stanislaus County and the flu vaccine only takes two weeks to become fully effective. It is particularly important for pregnant women and other people at higher risk for severe influenza to be vaccinated.
Aside from a primary care provider or local pharmacies, vaccinations are also offered at the Stanislaus County Public Health Department at a low cost of $10 per child (6 months through 18 years) and $25 per adult. Flu vaccines are provided to the public during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays at the Public Health building located at 820 Scenic Dr., Modesto. No appointments are necessary.
In addition to getting vaccinated, public health officials recommend everyone help prevent the spread of the seasonal flu by:
– Staying home when sick.
– Covering coughs and sneezes with elbows, sleeves, or with a tissue. Dispose of the tissue after each use. Coughing into hands can spread germs to others.
– Washing hands often with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
– Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, even after washing hands.
For more information about the influenza virus, visit the Stanislaus County website at www.stanemergency.com, or call the Health Services Agency Flu Hot Line at 209-558-8872.