If you’re thinking about putting off getting a flu shot for a few weeks, you may want to reconsider. Health Department officials in Allegany County said this week the flu bug has been arriving earlier than usual the last few years.
Addressing the Board of Health, Fred Tola, a health department official, said it may be time to begin urging inoculations as early as September each year. He said the flu bug has peaked in December for the last several years. Tola concluded that protection with seasonal flu vaccines should start before November, given that hospital visits peak in January. He said that reminders to the public about flu vaccines should begin in late summer and early fall.
Dr. Sue Raver, Allegany County health officer, said there already have been a few unconfirmed flu cases. She said one of the county’s key strategies in minimizing influenza cases is the school mist program. She said nearly 3,000 does of flu mist have been given to local students.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting you and your family. Flu shots should be given to babies 6 months of age and young children. They also should be administered to healthcare workers, caregivers and high risk persons including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases and those 50 years of age and older.
The CDC also urges these every-day actions to prevent or stop the spread of germs:
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick the CDC recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medications.
• While sick, limit contact with others.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or cough or sneeze into your elbow joint.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. For more information go to http://cdc.gov
/handwashing/. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.