BEND, Ore. - Flu (also known as "influenza") season has arrived and reports of people sick from the flu are increasing in Central Oregon and other counties around the state.
With rates of illness in the "moderate" level at this time, public health departments in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, area hospitals, medical clinics, and pharmacies suggest the following information to prevent illness in your place of work or at home.
HISTORY: The past two flu seasons have been very mild in comparison to a typical year, while 2013 appears to be returning to rates more often seen over time. The most common strain of influenza seen this year is H3N2, which tends to cause more severe illness in the years that it is diagnosed.
WHY SHOULD I RECEIVE A FLU SHOT? Influenza vaccines are a significant tool in decreasing public illness. This year's vaccines are about a 90 percent match with the most common strains that are being diagnosed. Although the level of protection from a flu shot can vary according to a person's age, health condition and other factors, flu vaccine has been shown to prevent disease in a majority of people who receive it. Flu shots also decrease the severity of illness in others, and decrease hospitalizations and death in the very young and the elderly.
WHERE CAN I GET A FLU SHOT? Flu vaccine supplies in Central Oregon are limited. Regional public health staff are working to coordinate vaccine supply with pharmacies and medical providers to ensure the most people can get vaccinated. Residents are encouraged to contact their local pharmacy, provider, or health department to inquire about available vaccine shots.
PREVENT ILLNESS: To prevent catching the flu or spreading the illness, please consider following these basic prevention steps:
- Get a flu shot, if you can.
- Cover your cough or sneeze.
- Cleanse your hands frequently with soap and water, or with hand sanitizer.
- Stay at least 3 feet away from someone who is ill and coughing.
- Clean surfaces often, especially shared items such as children's toys. Flu virus can live for several hours on hard surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick. Protect others at school and work by staying home at least 24-hours after a fever (100+ degrees) subsides.
For more information about flu prevention, call your local health care provider, health department or, visit flu.oregon.gov