Dr. Ron Chapman, state health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, recently urged Californians to get immunized from influenza to prevent health problems.
“Thousands of serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths can be prevented if Californians receive a flu vaccine as soon as possible,” Chapman said. “We can’t predict exactly when flu will arrive, but getting vaccinated now will help you and your family stay healthy when that time comes.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and CDPH recommend for anyone ages 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is effective and safe, they stated.

This year, many types of flu vaccinations may be offered. The most common vaccine is made from three influenza viruses (two A and a B). Newly available are “quadrivalent” formulations that contain the same three viruses and an additional B virus that sometimes circulates in the United States.

“Even if you were vaccinated against the flu last year, you will need a new vaccine this year,” said Chapman. “Check with your health care provider if you have questions about your vaccine options.”

CDC estimates that every year, more than 200,000 in the United States are hospitalized and flu-associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

Influenza, also called the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. The flu begins with an abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat and cough that often make people sick enough to keep them in bed for several days. Flu can be especially dangerous for young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes or asthma.

Chapman also reminded parents and caregivers to use acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead of aspirin when treating fever and aches in children and teenagers. Aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare childhood disease that can lead to coma, brain damage and even death.

For information about low- and no-cost flu vaccines, consumers should contact their local health department. For more information about the flu, visit CDPH’s Immunization Branch website at www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/immunize/Pages/default.aspx. For flu clinics, visit http://flushot.healthmap.org/. Besides these locations, Idyllwild Pharmacy also administers the vaccine for $24.99 if not covered by insurance.