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According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), influenza activity is increasing in Wisconsin. There have been approximately 190 influenza-associated hospitalizations, including children, adolescents and adults, already reported in Wisconsin so far this influenza season. Two-thirds of those hospitalized with influenza were aged 65 and older.
Influenza is a contagious disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). The illness can be mild to severe, and sometimes fatal.
Symptoms usually begin suddenly, with fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, fatigue, and body aches. The best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated each year.
As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can still provide protection against the flu. Flu activity typically peaks between December and February in the United States, and the season can last as late as May. While there’s still time to benefit from a flu vaccine, the sooner you get vaccinated, the more likely you are to be protected against the flu when activity picks up in your community.
Who Needs a Flu Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu viruses. A flu vaccine offers the best protection available against this serious disease. Once vaccinated, it takes about 2 weeks for the body’s immune response to fully kick in.
Where Can I Get a Flu Shot?
Public Health still has influenza vaccine available for people who have no insurance, or have Medicare or Medical Assistance. Call the health department at 715-246-8330 to schedule an appointment for a flu shot. Or call your health care provider to get a flu shot.
Other Ways to Avoid Getting Influenza
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Cover your cough or sneeze using your upper sleeve, try to avoid touching your face with your hands
• Don’t share drinking cups or straws
• Avoid being exposed to people who are sick and stay home if you are sick
• Eat nutritious meals and get plenty of rest
• Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, telephone, faucets
• If you think you may have the flu, call your doctor.