The Sacramento County Division of Public Health is reporting an increase in cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza. The three strains circulating in Sacramento County are H1N1 (2009 pandemic strain), Influenza A and Influenza B. The flu vaccine, which is readily available, covers all three strains of flu that have been detected.
The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual influenza vaccinations for everyone six months of age and older. A person’s decision to receive the vaccination or not impacts their entire community, as a yearly flu vaccine not only protects the individual from illness, but also those around them. In fact, Sacramento County has just experienced its first influenza related death for the 2013/14 flu season.
It’s especially important to be vaccinated if you have regular contact with people more vulnerable to the complications of flu, including babies, children with asthma, and the elderly. Sacramento County Public Health Division also recommends pregnant women be vaccinated to protect themselves, and to pass on some immunity to their baby.
The flu is a serious respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. Influenza may cause severe illness or even death in people such as the very young or very old, or those who have underlying health conditions. People who are ill with the flu are advised to stay home. Proper hand washing and cough etiquette are important in preventing spread of the flu.
In addition to getting vaccinated, it’s crucial to practice good health habits. If you become ill, you should take actions to stop the spread of germs, including:
Stay home when you are sick
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Wash your hands with soap/water
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
People with chronic medical conditions or those experiencing worsening flu symptoms should seek medical attention.
If you need information about immunization services for children and adults, or need to refer clients or get information regarding upcoming influenza clinics, please contact the Sacramento County Immunization Assistance Program at 916-875-SHOT (7468) Monday-Friday between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm or use the Flu Vaccine Finder at www.flu.gov/ or the HealthMap Flu Vaccine Finder located at http://flushot.healthmap.org/.