Influenza activity continues to increase in Monterey County, as is expected at this time of the year. As of this date there have been two confirmed deaths in Monterey County associated with the influenza virus.
While it is not possible to predict which influenza viruses will predominate during the entire 2013-14 influenza season, pH1N1 has been the predominant circulating virus so far. If the pH1N1 virus continues to circulate widely, illness that disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults may occur. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get a flu vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the Monterey County Health Department recommend a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine. Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. The 2013-2014 vaccine protects against the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic, an A H3N2 virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the formula you receive.
Free or low cost influenza vaccinations are offered by the Monterey County Health Department’s Clinic Services Division. Walk-in services are available Monday through Friday 08:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the following locations:
- Alisal Health Center, 559 East Alisal St., Salinas - 769-8870
- Seaside Family Health Center, 1150 Freemont Blvd., Seaside - 899-8100
Other locations offering influenza vaccination can be found at: http://flushot.healthmap.org/
The symptoms of influenza are:
How can I reduce my risk of getting sick?
The risk for seasonal virus infections can be reduced through a combination of actions. No single action will provide complete protection, but an approach combining the following steps can help decrease the likelihood of transmission. These recommended actions are:
- Get seasonal flu vaccinations for the entire family.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbows or sleeves, coughing into hands can spread germs to others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Hand sanitizer is an effective alternative.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Avoid close contact (i.e. being within about 6 feet) with persons with influenza like illness.
- Stay home from school or work if sick until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours.