Flu season is fast-approaching, which is why Mohave County public health officials are urging area residents to get their flu vaccines as soon as possible.
“The CDC is anticipating a busy flu season. There is plenty of vaccine to go around,” said Lynn Valentine of the Mohave County Board of Public Health.
She and Director Denise Burley spoke with Today’s News-Herald on the phone Thursday afternoon about prevention and precautions to get through the flu season unscathed.
“Kids from six months to age 18 can get a free flu shot from the health department, regardless of insurance status,” Burley said.
The county health department is not sponsoring immunization clinics for adults, they said, but the vaccine is readily available at most doctors’ offices, drug stores and pharmacies.
They noted that no reports of flu cases have been reported for the season. Havasu Regional Medical Center hasn’t seen any flu cases either, said Ryan Perkins, HRMC’s communications director.
He also reminded folks to not visit patients in the hospital if you have a cough, fever, cold, flu and so forth.
“Hand-washing is the best way to curb the spread of germs,” Perkins added.
Valentine and Burley of the health department agreed.
“Our number one message that we want to get out is for people to get their flu shot and pay attention to hand washing,” Valentine said. “Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine.”
Different flu vaccines are designed for use in different groups of people. Some flu shots are for use in children as young as 6 months of age; another type of flu shot is for adults 65 years and older.
Getting the immunization doesn’t offer immediate protection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.
Federal health officials often look to Australia’s flu experience to help predict what the U.S. flu season will look like.
According to the CDC, Australia’s department of health said 662 people have died from the flu during that nation’s season; more than 270,000 people have gotten sick.
A severe form of Influenza A H3N2 dominated.
Burley said that last year’s flu season peaked around the holidays. A report she shared with the newspaper said there were 734 confirmed flu cases reported in Mohave County for the 2018-19 season.
The actual number may be higher because some people who catch the flu don’t see a doctor or are not tested for the flu.