(Santa Ana, CA) – The Health Care Agency reports a rapid increase of flu activity in Orange County over the past few weeks and reminds residents that it’s not too late to vaccinate. More than 900 confirmed influenza cases have been reported by local medical providers to date this season. Nine adults between the ages of 18-64 and two children under 18 years of age have developed severe infection requiring a visit to intensive care.
“The rapid rise in reports of illness and hospitalization around the state makes it likely that this will be a severe flu season,” said County Health Officer Dr. Eric Handler. “The vaccine seems to match well with the virus we’re seeing, and it’s a quick and easy way for folks to protect themselves against severe complications from the flu.”
Influenza is a seasonal contagious respiratory illness which can be caused by influenza A or B viruses. Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. Flu illness can be severe, leading to missed school or work, hospitalization and even death.
Flu virus is mainly spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes. The best way to protect against both influenza A and B viruses is by getting vaccinated each year before the start of the flu season. Vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, and are especially important for infants, young children, pregnant women, adults over 50 and those with chronic medical conditions. Close contacts and caregivers of these high risk people should also be vaccinated.
Most insurance plans including MediCal and Medicare cover free vaccinations from your health care provider. In addition, many clinics and pharmacies offer no-cost or low-cost flu shots throughout Orange County. The Health Care Agency will be offering free seasonal influenza vaccinations for people six months of age and older who do not have a medical provider or health insurance coverage. Vaccinations are available on a walk-in basis on the following day and times:
8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
Public Health Clinic, 1725 West 17th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Remember these important steps to help stop the spread of flu and other germs:
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (or sleeve if you are caught by surprise)
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water (or alcohol-based sanitizer, if not available)
- Stay home if you are sick (at least 24 hours after your fever is gone)
The most current local information, including vaccination locations, is available at www.ochealthinfo.com/flu or by calling the Health Referral Line at 800-564-8448, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free, print-ready resources for individuals, schools, and health care settings to help promote influenza prevention are available at http://ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/family/flu/print.
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