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Bay Area county urges unvaccinated residents to get flu shots

By Nathan Salant     Jan 18, 2015 in Health
Fairfield - Increasing flu activity in the San Francisco Bay Area has prompted health officials in Solano County to remind residents that there's still time to get vaccinated against current strains of the virus.
Northern California has largely been spared the worst effects of the flu virus sweeping the country, at least so far, so officials says residents should work to keep it that way by getting vaccinated and by regularly washing their hands to reduce the risk of contamination.
“Although Ebola has received a lot of attention this year, flu is a much more real threat here in the Bay Area,” said Dr. Bela T. Matyas, Solano County's health officer.
“Every year, flu sickens and kills thousands of Americans and is particularly dangerous to the young, elderly and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems," he said.
Four people have died of flu in Northern California since the season began in October, including two residents of San Mateo County.
But the height of the season may be yet to come, officials said.
That's why the county's Department of Public Health is sponsoring a free flu vaccine clinic on Jan 31 at the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center in Suisun City.
The clinic is open to everyone from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the center at 586 East Wigeon Way.
Complicating prevention efforts are natural changes in the H3N2 virus that could make this year's vaccine less effective than it could have been, officials said.
“Even though the flu shot is not a perfect match for all of this year’s circulating flu virus strains, it is still important to get vaccinated,” Matyas said.
“The shot will protect you against other strains of flu that are circulating, and it can decrease the severity of illness if you do get the flu,” he said.
Good hygiene also can help residents reduce the likelihood that they will spread the germs should they encounter them.
Solano officials recommend:
-- limiting contact with others when you sick by staying home from work or school
-- covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
-- washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based rub
-- avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth
Vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, and is especially important for pregnant women, children under five, the elderly and people with other serious medical conditions.
Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, so anyone experiencing such discomfort should call their doctors or medical professionals to arrange an examination.
More information about influenza is available from the website [url=http://www.flu.gov]www.flu.gov.
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