The peak of flu season arrives in January so the push is on now to get vaccinated.
Douglas County has confirmed 73 cases of influenza this fall with 53 percent of those patients between the ages of 25 and 64 while one-third are younger than 24. Sarpy and Cass counties together have confirmed only two cases.
“Every flu season can be different,” says Dr. Anne O’Keefe with the Douglas County Health Department. “Some can be early, some late. This year seems to be pretty much on track. Flu season can last well into March, sometimes later, so it's not too late to get your flu vaccine."
Roughly 45 percent of Americans get immunized every year and an effort is underway to bring this figure up to 80 percent by 2020. Nebraska and Iowa are among the 12 states where more than 50 percent of the population received a flu vaccine last year.
There was a significant spike in the number of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths last year, especially among the most vulnerable, young children and seniors. Most of the flu activity nationwide is happening in the southeast, but it's creeping in around us. Colorado, Wyoming and Minnesota are already seeing an increase in influenza.
A general distrust of vaccines or concerns about side effects have kept many from getting the shot or using the mist. “There's no way you can get the flu from the flu vaccine,” says Dr. O’Keefe. “The flu itself is definitely very deadly to some and the flu vaccine is the best way that we have to try to prevent people from getting the flu."
Whether you get the vaccine or not, there are a number of other steps to ward off the flu and even the common cold. Wash hands frequently, eat well, drink plenty of water, exercise, get seven to nine hours of sleep each day and take vitamins (D, C, zinc or echinacea).