The Stanislaus County Public Health Department is warning citizens about increasing influenza (flu) activity in California and is offering flu vaccinations at little or no cost.
During the holidays, the flu can easily be transmitted from family or friends, but there is still time to get vaccinated and lower your risk for getting and spread the disease.
Health officials urge everyone six months or older to get vaccinated every year to protect against the flu — which can lead to hospitalization or death, according to a release.
There are many different flu viruses and the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the strains that research shows will cause the most illness during the flu season.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while some viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccinations can still provide protection and can reduce severe outcomes, such as hospitalization or death.
Typically, the flu season in Stanislaus County peaks in February and March, but the flu vaccination takes two weeks to become effective and California is experiencing an early season.
“California is experiencing an early influenza season this year, but it’s not too late to vaccinate!” said Dr. John Walker, Public Health Officer.
Residents are encouraged to check with their primary care provider or local pharmacy for vaccine availability. 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 $27 per adult. However, no person will be denied a flu vaccine for inability to pay.
Flu vaccines are available to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays at the Public Health location at 820 Scenic Dr. in Modesto. No appointments are necessary.
In addition to getting vaccinated, Public Health officials recommend everyone help prevent the spread of the seasonal flu by:
Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Carrying alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you and using when you are not able to wash your hands;
Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
Covering your coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or tissue; and
Staying home if you are sick.
“Antiviral treatment starting within 48 hours of onset is recommended for high risk groups such as children under one year of age and adults 65 years of age and over and others with chronic diseases. Check with your doctor,” said Stanislaus County’s Health Services Agency’s Medical Director Dr. Del Morris.
For more information about the influenza virus and the flu vaccines, please visit www.stanemergency.com or call the Health Services Agency Flu Hotline at 209-558-8872.