With flu season fast approaching, Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state health officer, today urges Californians to get vaccinated against the flu.“The flu is much more serious than the common cold and has the potential of causing serious illness and death,” said Chapman.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza and related complications are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, associated with up to 49,000 deaths and over 200,000 hospitalizations each year in the U.S.
“But there is something we can do about it,” said Chapman. “Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect ourselves and our family against the flu and its complications.” CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women. Healthy people between two and 49 years of age, who are not pregnant, may opt for the nasal spray flu vaccine instead of a shot.
The 2012-2013 flu vaccine protects against an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus. This year’s flu vaccine contains two different strains that were not part of the 2011-12 flu vaccine.
To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, Californians should also:
• Stay home when sick.
• Cover a cough or sneeze by using your elbow or a tissue and properly disposing of the used tissue.
• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
Dr. Chapman encourages Californians to contact their health care provider, physician office, clinic, or pharmacy who are now offering flu vaccines. Some local health departments may also offer low or no cost flu immunizations. To find a flu vaccine location near you, visit www.healthmap.org/flushot. To learn more about getting protected against the flu, visit www.flu.gov.