As I’m sure everyone is aware, it has been a bad flu season. It has been so bad that almost everyone knows someone that has had the flu this season (it might even be yourself). Seeing a coworker, classmate or relative get the flu makes one thing very obvious: any preventive measures are worth not getting influenza. But, what preventive measures are most effective? And, how bad has the flu season really been in Clay County?
Epidemiology Specialist Elizabeth Groenweghe with the Clay County Public Health Center had some answers to these questions. According to Groenweghe, the best ways to prevent the flu are:
- Getting your flu shot. The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu! Some of us had heard that the flu shot was not effective this year, but according to Groenweghe, “57% of the cases we received in Clay County were not vaccinated. Even during flu seasons when the vaccine isn’t the best match, getting the yearly flu shot will provide some kind of protection.”
- Washing hands often or use or use hand sanitizer when hand washing is not available.
- Staying away from those who are sick: Groenweghe strongly advises those who are sick to stay home. She warns that the flu is very contagious and especially dangerous for young children. The flu virus can spread person-to-person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks!
Clay County Public Health Center has been releasing weekly data about the flu season in Clay County. As compared to the last five years, this flu season has had a huge increase in reported cases. See graphs here. As for a timeline on when the flu season will end, Groenweghe believes that we will continue to see heightened flu activity at least for another few weeks.
We’re not out of the woods yet, but hopefully we will see a decrease in the number of cases of influenza. Getting the flu shot, washing your hands and staying away from those who are sick, gives you the best chance of avoiding the flu this year. For more information about influenza activity in Clay County, please contact the epidemiology program at Clay County Public Health Center at 816-595-4362.