Flu shots

GREEN VALLEY — Despite the warmer-than-normal temperatures this week, there have already been cases of the flu recorded in Mercer County this season. There are ways though to improve your chances of not contracting the flu

According to the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health: Influenza (also known as the flu) is a respiratory illness caused by flu viruses that can spread easily from person to person. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms usually are fever and cough and/or sore throat. Symptoms may also include headache, extreme tiredness, runny or stuffy nose, or muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur, especially in children.

A flu vaccine is prepared yearly based on which strains of influenza are anticipated to be the predominant ones circulating. Vaccination doesn’t guarantee someone won’t get the flu, but it has been found to reduce the likelihood of becoming seriously ill from the flu.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, while seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.

Also according to the CDC, adults 65 years old or older; pregnant women; young children and those who suffer from asthma, heart disease and stroke,, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer and children with neurologic conditions are all high risk groups for the flu.

Sandie Davis, RN, BSN, a public health nurse for the Mercer County Health Department, said Tuesday, “We’ve already have had flu cases in the county.” and added that it was too early to tell what strains are active until they get data from the WVBPH.

As for ways to avoid the flu, she said, “Besides getting an inoculation, we recommend washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap; covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home from school, work and public places when you’re sick.”

Davis said shots are recommended for everyone who is six months or up in age.

In addition to many local pharmacies and doctor’s offices, the Mercer County Health Center offers flu vaccinations for reasonable prices on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk in to the MCHC and register without an extended wait.

Contact Jeff Harvey at delimartman@yahoo.com.

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