Modest flu season so far

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From left; Erica Vickers, a registered nurse at the Rock County Health Department South Office gets a flu shot from registered nurse Casey Stubbs. The nurses say they enjoy protecting the public from flu every season.

It’s still not too late to get a flu shot, according to Rock County Health Department Nursing Supervisor Sancee Siebold.

As of Wednesday there has been only one documented case of influenza in Rock County, and four in Wisconsin. Siebold noted the cases tracked by the health department are for those hospitalized or cases resulting in death, so the numbers of people infected with the flu could be higher. However, the amount of cases of flu seems to be lower than average this year.

“People have been starting to get the vaccine as early as September, and it definitely is helping,” Siebold said.

Last year in Rock County there were 19 documented cases of the flu that required followup, and in the previous year there were no documented cases. Of the 19 documented cases last year, there was one death.

Anyone over 6 months of age is recommended to get the vaccination, in order to prevent the illness from spreading to more vulnerable populations such as seniors and children or those with a weakened immune system.

The flu season starts around the end of October or early November and peaks around January or February, Siebold said.

In Beloit, people can get flu vaccinations at the Rock County Health Department South Office, 61 Eclipse Center. People can schedule appointments on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays by calling 608-364-2010. On Wednesday the South Office holds a walk-in clinic from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

“There usually isn’t much of a wait for the shot. It’s pretty easy to walk in and get the shot in a short period of time,” Siebold said. “If you haven’t got the flu shot, get it. It’s never too late. Even if the flu starts gearing up, we can still give the shot. With the holidays coming up people are more likely to be around a lot of people and the likelihood of coming in contact with flu increases.”

She said it takes about two weeks to develop immunity after getting a flu shot.

At the health department the flu vaccination is $25 for adults, and $5 for children. The high dose for seniors 65 and above is $50. The health department accepts Medicaid and Medicare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control influenza activity remained low in the United States from Oct. 21-27, the latest data available.

Typically the flu vaccination is developed after cases of influenza are tracked in Asia.

Health officials offer common-sense advice to help reduce the spread of influenza. To protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu, officials suggest taking the following steps:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve, and try to avoid touching your face with your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.

• Use your own drinking cups and straws.

• Avoid being exposed to people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.

• Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest and do not smoke.

• Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (e.g., door knobs, refrigerator handle, telephone, faucets).

If you think you have the flu, stay home, get rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. If your symptoms persist, contact your doctor.

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