With the influenza season yet to hit its peak and already begun early, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital’s Infection Control Director is advising people to get their shots.
“We have seen some positive cases coming in and some people have been admitted to the hospital with the flu,” said Sue Lemon, the infection control director.
She said that some cases were seen as early as November, a month before flu season typically starts.
“The flu usually peaks in February, but we haven’t seen a peak yet,” she said.
Lemon said the best suggestion for anyone who hasn’t caught the flu is to get vaccinated either at one of the local pharmacies such as Walgreens or through a local physician.
Results released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention say while this year’s flu vaccine were only 62 percent effective, it was still a good match for combating the strains hitting the nation. The CDC reported it matched well with 90 percent of the strains.
“The effectiveness can vary from person to person,” Lemon said.
But even if one has contracted the flu after receiving a flu shot Lemon said, “You have a head start with the antibodies in your system. You still reap those benefits.”
Lemon also said basic hygienic methods like covering coughs or sneezes, washing hands or utilizing the hand sanitizers that have become prevalent are additional ways to ward off catching the flu.
“If you can’t catch the flu, you can’t spread the flu,” she said.
As for people that might contract the influenza, the best solution was to stay home and recover by resting and staying hydrated.
“People who get the influenza 24 hours before showing the symptoms can still spread it,” she said.
She said those who were likely at a higher risk, like the elderly or those with diabetes, should contact a physician if they feel the symptoms.
In its last FluView report, the CDC reported 47 states that reported influenza-like symptoms. Many states have issued notices of emergency and a reported spike in cases over previous years.
Lemon said that she hadn’t seen a noticeable increase in cases, but wouldn’t know any definitive numbers until the end of the season.
Overall, she said the CDC has reported California’s outbreaks vary regionally, with some counties and cities faring better than others.
In a news release sent out by the California Department of Public Health, its director Dr. Ron Chapman said that overall it was not an unexpected increase. Chapman strongly recommended people to get vaccinated.
“Our flu season may not peak for several more weeks, so I encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect not only themselves, but those with whom they come into contact,” Chapman stated.
Lemon, RRH’s infection control director, said, “I haven’t hear of any shortages of flu vaccines in the area.”
She also recommended calling ahead to available pharmacies and physicians to inquire about information on vaccinations.