Flu Epidemic: Protect Yourself! January 19, 2018 Tag 82 The death toll from the flu in California has continued to rise, amid a brutal flu season that has spread across the nation. According to the LA Times, "State health officials said that 32 people under 65 died last week of the flu, making it the deadliest week this season so far. In total, 74 people under age 65 have died of the flu since October, compared with 14 at the same time last year." Influenza, commonly called the "flu," is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu every year. You can get the flu vaccine from your regular health care provider or local pharmacy. Flu vaccine is also provided at no-cost or low-cost at community events, including: Public Health Clinics Free and Low-Cost Clinics Please call ahead to confirm times and availability. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to develop full immunity, everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible to reduce their risk for getting the flu. While anyone can get sick with the flu and become severely ill, some people are more likely to experience severe illness. Young children, adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are among those groups of people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, possibly requiring hospitalization and sometimes resulting in death. Flu usually spreads from person-to-person through droplets from a sick person's cough or sneeze. It also can spread by touching a surface or an object that has flu virus on it, like a doorknob or computer keyboard, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. In addition to the flu shot, practice good health habits such as hand washing and covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing helps prevent the spread of flu.