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Protect yourself against the flu
November 29, 2018

The recent death of a 60-year-old Riverside man who tested positive for influenza is a tragic reminder that the flu can be deadly, especially for the young, elderly and those whose health is already compromised.

The patient died in early November – the first flu-associated death this flu season in Riverside County – after being admitted to a local hospital in Riverside. On top of that, last year’s flu season for 2017-18 was one of the worst in generations: There were 23 flu-associated deaths in Riverside County of individuals 64 or younger and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 80,000 flu deaths nationally.

The moral of this terrible story is that the flu still kills, and local, state and national health officials continue to recommend community members get their flu shot. Get your flu shot and get protected.

Although the individual had received a flu shot, he had underlying health issues which made him more susceptible, demonstrating individuals with chronic medical problems are among the greatest at risk. But even healthy people can get the flu and its complications. We recommend anyone 6 months or older get vaccinated against the flu, and the best time to get the shot is early in the flu season to give the body enough time for the immunization to work. But it’s not too late; there are plenty of doses available. Last year’s vaccination was shown to be about 40 percent effective – which is to say, getting the flu shot last year reduced your chance of getting the flu by 40 percent -- and this year’s is likely to be substantially better.

Is it possible to get the flu even if you get vaccinated? Yes. But it has been shown that the severity of the symptoms is reduced for those who have been vaccinated. And even though a few people may have a brief reaction, the flu shot can’t give you the flu. Most people will have no reaction at all.
Of course we have the common safety tips: avoid sick people, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home from work or school when you are feeling sick and wash your hands frequently.

But from where I’m standing, the best weapon in our fight against the flu is to get your annual vaccination. It only takes a minute, but for some of us, it could honestly be the difference between life and death.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org