Local health officials encouraging flu shots

Since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine each season. There is no live flu virus in flu shots.

A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it. Tens of thousands of people die every year of complications from influenza, according to the CDC.

According to the latest report by the MoH, deaths as a result of influenza have reduced over the past three years, with the 2017 season seeing eight cases of deaths so far, compared with 2015, which recorded 25 deaths. There is plenty of vaccine now available at clinics, pharmacies and walk-in clinics, she said.

"Influenza is an unpredictable infectious disease", said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

For students who have paid their health center fee, the Birkam Health Center offers flu shots and will bill their insurance.

Influenza (flu) vaccine can reduce your chances of getting influenza, or it can make influenza less severe if you do get it.

The County Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday the number of influenza cases reported this season is pacing 3-to-1 over last year's numbers.

Last year, 46.8 percent of the USA population over the age of 6 months was vaccinated, despite the widespread availability of low-priced flu vaccines. Young children, senior citizens, pregnant women and people with chronic illness or compromised immune systems are at high risk of serious flu complications - and if you're carrying the flu around, you can infect others who may not have your resistance, including babies too young to get the vaccine.

"Getting vaccinated is the best protection against flu illness", said CDPH state health officer Karen Smith, MD.

Regular hand washing is also an important step to prevent contracting the flu.