Merced County Times Newspaper
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Are you ready to fight the flu this season?

Influenza (Flu) is a contagious disease that can cause mild to severe illness. Severe cases of flu can lead to hospitalization and even death. Some people are at higher risk for developing serious flu complications: older people, young children, women who are pregnant, and persons with diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS. The best protection against flu is getting a flu vaccine each year.

While the timing of flu season is unpredictable, seasonal flu activity often begins to increase in mid/late Fall, most commonly peaks between December and February, and can extend into late Spring. There has already been one reported pediatric influenza death in California, and experts suggest that this early activity might predict a more severe flu season this year.

CDC recommends a three-step approach to fight flu:
  1.  Get the flu vaccine. Everyone 6months and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting a flu vaccine every year provides the best protection against flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to protect against flu virus infection.
  2. Take every day actions to stop the spread of germs. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you become sick, limit your contact with others by staying home from work and school. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often.
  3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. If you get sick with flu, prescription flu antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

Flu shots are available at your health care provider’s office, local pharmacies, and for free at the following Merced Community Clinics:

• Livingston – Oct. 17, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Livingston City Council Chambers.

• Merced – Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to noon, Department of Public Health.

• Winton – Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Castle Family Health Centers Winton.

For more information, call 209-381-1180.

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