Health officials say they have started to see cases of flu in Oregon. They recommend everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine.
People who get vaccinated not only protect themselves but may also protect those around them, officials say. People at higher risk of severe illness include babies and young children, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions or weak immune systems.
“Healthy adults who get vaccinated help prevent the flu from spreading quickly. But only a third of adults 18 to 49 get the flu vaccine,” says Ann Thomas, M.D., public health physician at the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. “Even if adults do not get a vaccine for themselves, they may want to get vaccinated to protect those they love.”
The flu vaccine may take up to two weeks to become effective, so getting it earlier in the season is ideal. Flu vaccine is available from health care providers, local health departments and many pharmacies. The vaccine is free or low cost with most health insurance plans. To find a flu vaccine clinic, visit http://www.flu.oregon.gov/ and use OHA’s flu vaccine locator tool.
Flu is a virus that causes mild to severe respiratory illness. In severe cases it can lead to hospitalization and even death. The virus kills thousands of people in the U.S. each year. Oregon had two flu-related deaths of children during the 2018-2019 flu season.
Flu vaccines can be life-saving for children. A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccines can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza. Studies have also shown flu vaccines reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick, preventing thousands of hospitalizations each year.
Public health officials also encourage health care workers to get vaccinated for the flu. Immunized health care workers help prevent the spread of influenza in health care settings, particularly among hospitalized patients at high risk for complications from the flu. Data on 2017-2018 Oregon health care worker influenza vaccination rates are available in the Oregon Health Care Worker Influenza Vaccination report.
Additional ways people can help prevent the spread of flu:
Stay home from work or school when you are sick and limit contact with others.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue out when you are done.
Wash hands with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may have flu germs on them.
Avoid getting coughed and sneezed on.