January 17, 2013

Editorial: Get your flu shot right away

The blaring headline on the front page of Monday’s edition — “Region catches the flu” — needs no explanation.

The flu bug has hit the North Country with a vengeance.

The number of patients already infected with influenza haven’t been seen in years around here, and local health authorities are gearing up for what may be the worst outbreak in a decade.

Despite the plethora of information available and disseminated since late summer announcing the circumstances of this year’s flu strain, many people haven’t been inoculated yet and have ignored the helpful, personal hints to keep the outbreak at bay.

Local hospitals are reporting higher than average visits for complaints of respiratory and fever symptoms, and pharmacies are telling us that average sales of influenza-related medications are up, too.

But there’s a silver lining to the dark flu cloud hovering over the area: It’s not too late to get a flu shot.

Health officials recommend that all receive the vaccine to protect themselves and others.

Medical experts say it takes 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to become fully effective, but it’s still important to be inoculated, since the flu typically peaks in February or March.

This year, though, doctors around the country are seeing earlier patterns, and the flu has turned up in all 48 contiguous states.

Although in some cases supplies of the vaccine are in short supply, there’s plenty of serum to go around.

Some venues have run out but will get resupplied quickly.

Doctors’ offices and local pharmacies alike, as well as regional health agencies, can direct you to where there’s an ample supply.

And there are important preventive actions to protect against the spread of flu and other germs. To wit: Wash your hands often; sneeze and cough into your sleeve and not your hands; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; eat nutritional foods; drink plenty of water; and get plenty of sleep.

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