Health department offering free flu shots

With flu continuing to occur through this month and into March, there's still flu that can be prevented or made less severe, said Schaffner.

Since the start of the flu season, a total of 3,335 influenza cases in the region have been confirmed by laboratory testing, compared to 1,939 at this time previous year, according to county health data.

Dr. DeeDee Kidd and the staff at the American Family Care clinic at EastChase in Montgomery have been very busy. Looking back two weeks, however, local rates roughly tracked with national rates.

Unfortunately, the CDC recently advised that the flu mist nasal spray proved ineffective in treating the flu last season.

The latest information from the health department shows school absences are on the rise, higher now than the average over the last five years. "Because of the high volumes, it is likely wait times may increase during this spike in flu-related activity", Stanley said. More people are getting sick. "There is plenty of vaccine available, and from what we're seeing internationally, it looks to be a good match for the predominant strain of virus that's out there right now - the H-3 Type-A virus".

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While the vaccine was found to be 48 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits for all ages, it provided slightly better protection for young children between the ages of 6 months to 8 years and older adults between the ages of 50 to 64, according to the report.

The most common strain of the flu virus in Alabama this year is influenza A (H3), state officials said.

"The good news is that I think the flu vaccine seems to be matched pretty well", said Dr. John Morrow, Pitt County Health director. "We're emphasizing to students who are ill, especially if they have a fever, that they stay home".

Usually the peak of flu season is in early February, but this year it is expected to peak a little later than normal. "Even if you catch the flu before the vaccine has a chance to take full effect, it can still lessen the severity of your illness and hopefully prevent serious complications". And in NY, one person who was exposed to cats with respiratory infections in an animal shelter tested positive for avian lineage influenza A (H7N2) virus. The university is under "red" alert and health officials urge students and staff to use proper hygiene practices. Touching "door knobs, sharing telephones, and sitting at tables...where everybody else coughed and sneezed", are all great ways to catch the flu but washing your hands can help to minimize that risk.