BEND, Ore. -

Deschutes County Health Services Communicable Disease Program said Wednesday it has confirmed several cases of influenza.

Here's the rest of their statement:

In preparation for busy holiday schedules and traveling, please consider getting your flu vaccine now. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza. The sooner you get vaccinated, the more protected you will be as the busy holiday season approaches.

Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid catching the flu virus, and the best way to protect yourself and the community from illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone age 6 months and older should receive an annual influenza vaccination.

Children 6 months through 8 years-old may need two doses, depending on previous flu vaccine history, so it is important to talk to your health provider.

A seasonal flu vaccination is especially recommended for people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, people living or caring for babies six months and younger, and all health care workers.

Flu vaccine is available through local health care providers as well as most pharmacies (for people 11 years and older). Deschutes County Health Services is also offering flu vaccine for children 6 months to 18 years-old.  Call (541) 322-7400 to schedule a flu vaccine appointment for your child.

In addition to vaccination, these preventive measures can help stop flu and other diseases·:

1. Cover your cough and sneeze.

2. Wash your hands often. Use soap and warm water.

3. Stay home when you’re sick. Protect others at school and work by staying home at least 24 hours after a fever (100+ degrees) subsides.

4. Clean surfaces often. Flu germs can live for hours on hard surfaces, especially where children are playing.

Each flu season is unique and unpredictable, but it is estimated that on average, approximately 5 to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for flu-related complications and about 36,000 Americans die on average, per year from flu complications.  For more information on influenza, visit www.flu.oregon.gov.