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posted on November 22, 2010 08:11
Don’t Spread the Flu This Holiday Season
Public health officials are encouraging people to get their flu vaccine before the holidays to prevent the spread of illness among families and friends. “With the holidays approaching, this is the perfect time to not only protect yourself, but your loved ones as well,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “The best protection is to get vaccinated. We don’t want to see people’s holidays ruined because of flu illnesses that are easily preventable.”
Tengelsen says that flu seasons can be unpredictable. Although flu illnesses often don’t peak until January or later, last year the majority of flu cases occurred in September and October. Idaho is receiving some reports of flu activity, which could escalate at any time. A flu vaccination today offers protection throughout the 2010-2011 flu season.
This year, there is a record amount of flu vaccine available, an estimated 160 million doses nationally. Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. Infants younger than six months are too young to be vaccinated, but are at high risk for flu complications so all family members are strongly encouraged to help protect them by getting vaccinated.   
Last year, 23 Idahoans died from complications of the flu, with an additional 309 people hospitalized. The dominant flu strain last year was the H1N1 virus, which caused great concern because of the serious illnesses it caused in young people. People who received the H1N1 flu vaccine last year still need to be vaccinated this year for full protection from both H1N1 and other circulating flu viruses.
Along with the vaccine, Tengelsen advises people to follow these recommendations to protect themselves:
  • Cover your cough with a tissue or sleeve.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after you’ve been in public places.
  • Travel only when you are feeling well. If you have flu symptoms, wait to travel until at least 24 hours after you are fever free without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Additional information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu site, or from your local public health district.