By Andrew Clark | Signal Staff Writer
Los Angeles County health officials are urging residents it is not too late to get vaccinated against the flu despite increased flu activity earlier than normal.
Los Angeles County Interim Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser said receiving the flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect people from getting the flu or suffering from complications.
“Continue spreading holiday cheer and not the flu,” he said. “Flu activity usually peaks in January and February, but this season we are seeing flu activity earlier than usual so getting vaccinated now is important. Getting vaccinated against flu protects both the person who receives the vaccine and also reduces the chance they will become ill and spread the flu to family and friends.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said influenza activity has increased significantly in recent weeks and is now widespread across California. Flu can cause hospitalization and death.
County officials said everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu each year. The flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at greater risk for complications. Groups of people that are at high risk for flu complications include children younger than five years, adults 65 years and older, and pregnant women. Medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease, diabetes and being overweight can also increase the risk for flu complications.
People at higher risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill because they could benefit from antiviral therapy that can reduce the risk of experiencing complications and reduce the severity and duration of illness.
County officials also recommend residents practice good hygiene such as washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes in order to prevent getting and spreading the flu.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Flu can also aggravate underlying health conditions like heart disease or asthma. Thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized or die each year from influenza-associated illness.