With flu season just around the corner, the moment has arrived for Californians to pull up their sleeves and get a flu shot.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommended the public get their flu vaccines sooner than later, in September or October ahead of flu season.
In California, the flu season usually begins in late November or December but the body needs time to develop immunity, according to CDPH.
“Getting vaccinated is the best protection against flu illness,” said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith, in a statement. “You can prevent missing work or school, visits to the doctor or hospitalizations, and protecting others from coming down with the flu.”
A person may be contagious and spread the flu to others before feeling any symptoms.
To reduce the risk, CDPH suggests everyone six months of age and older get the annual flu vaccine. Pregnant women, children under five, adults 65 years of age and older, and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease and asthma are at risk for flu-related complications.
Common flu symptoms include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, said CDPH.
Here are some recommended steps to prevent the spread of the flu:
• Stay home while sick and limit contact with others.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or a disposable tissue.
• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Each year, the flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and occasionally, thousands or tens of thousands of deaths in the United States.
CDPH encourages Californians to contact their health care provider, physician’s office, clinic or pharmacy about getting the flu vaccine. Some local health departments may also offer low- or no-cost flu immunizations.