Flu Season - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane Regional Health District's Outlook For The 2010/11 Flu Season

SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) will soon be administering seasonal flu shots and is spreading the word about the benefits of immunization in the face of the 2010-11 flu season.

"Seasonal flu takes the lives of approximately 36,000 people each year in the United States. Preventing its spread remains a public health priority," said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer, Spokane Regional Health District. "It's important to know that good public health practices go a long way in preventing people from catching the flu."

This year, it's recommended that all people 6 months of age and older get immunized against flu. Unlike last year, people age 9 and over only need a single shot of flu vaccine to protect against three strains of the flu, including the H1N1 virus.

Some children 6 months to 8 years of age may require two doses of this year's flu vaccine. For questions, contact your health care provider, or call Spokane Regional Health District's Public Health Clinic at (509) 324-1600.

Currently, only a small number of flu cases are being reported in Spokane, this is typical for late summer. Cases of flu will likely continue to occur, caused by different strains of the flu virus including H1N1. However, flu is unpredictable and immunization is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

SRHD believes there will be sufficient quantity of vaccine to meet the needs of Spokane County. Vaccine, in both the nasal mist and shot form, will be offered by many local health care provider offices and pharmacies.

SRHD typically receives its vaccine in mid- to late-September. When vaccine is available, appointments can be made at our SRHD Public Health Clinic by calling (509) 324-1600. SRHD will also offer several community clinics in October and November. SRHD's flu hotline, (509) 324-1643, as well as its website, www.srhd.org, will be updated with specific locations and dates as they become available.

Typical flu can cause a range of symptoms and effects, from mild to severe. Most healthy people recover from the flu without problems. Persons at high risk of flu complications include people aged 65 years and older, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, neurologic and neuro-developmental disorders, heart disease, and people with immunosuppressive conditions/medications.

Flu symptoms may include sudden onset of fever, cough, headaches, body aches, chills, weakness and extreme fatigue. If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, you should stay home for at least 24 hours and avoid contact with other people, except to get medical care if necessary.

The following are several tips SRHD recommends for preventing the spread of flu:

  • Get a flu shot each year.
  • Stay at home if you have a cough or fever.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze, cough or blow your nose. Wash your hands after you dispose of used tissues.
    • If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve/elbow.
  • Regularly clean surfaces in your home that are touched often, like light switches, doorknobs, faucets and appliance handles.
  • Don't share food, utensils, beverages, towels, lipstick, toys, cigarettes or anything else that might become contaminated with germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can spread by touching them.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people. Most germs are spread when a sick person coughs, sneezes or talks. Wear a mask in a medical office if asked. Always follow your health care provider's instructions and take medicine as prescribed.

Remember, more flu information can be found on the SRHD flu hotline, (509) 324-1643, or at srhd.org. The site also offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community.

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