Last week, state officials again urged residents to get a flu shot. While influenza activity has been low so far this flu season, it began to rise at the end of December.

While not widespread in California, the number of cases has been growing.

“Many California counties, and other states, are reporting patients who are critically ill with influenza, including healthy young adults,” according to a state Public Health advisory, encouraging the use of flu vaccines.

The H1N1 strain appears to be the predominant strain circulating so far in California and in the rest of the United States this flu season. The H1N1 virus, which emerged during the 2009 pandemic, causes more illness in children and young adults compared to older adults. It causes severe illness in all age groups, including those younger than age 65.

According to a Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, the 2012 vaccine had the “the greatest benefit on those who were most vulnerable to the flu: children younger than 5, and people 65 and older.”

Last week, 9.1 percent of visits to Riverside County emergency departments were related to influenza-like illnesses. Compared to historical data, this is above-normal levels. However, only 3.8 percent of visits to physician sentinel sites were related to influenza-like illnesses. This is below-normal levels of historical data.

Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks before becoming fully protected against the flu. An influenza vaccine is especially important for pregnant women and other people at higher risk for severe influenza.

In addition to getting vaccinated, state Public Health advises that it’s crucial to practice good health habits: If a person becomes ill, they should take actions to stop the spread of germs, such as staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands with soap and water, and avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

Area pharmacies with influenza vaccines
The closest is the Idyllwild Pharmacy, located in the Strawberry Creek Square, (951) 659-2135

Other pharmacies, within 25 miles, offering flu vaccines are:

  • CVS pharmacy
    43418 Hwy. 74, Hemet
    (951) 927-2584
  • Ralph’s Pharmacy
    425 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs
    (760) 327-4381
  • Rite Aid
    42021 E. Florida Ave.,Hemet
    (951) 925-1651366 South Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
    (760) 325-2326

    111 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs
    (760) 327-9133

    806 Ramsey St., Banning
    (951) 849-8614

    300 S. Highland Springs Ste. 9, Banning
    (951) 769-1285

  • Sav-On Pharmacy
    1751 Sunrise Way, Palm Springs
    (760) 322-1131
  • Walgreens
    43200 Hwy. 74, Hemet
    (951) 927-8570555 S. Sunrise Way, #112, Palm Springs
    (760) 323-1973

    1695 N. Sunrise Way, Bldg. 2, Palm Springs
    (760) 325-9370

    1700 E. Vista Chino, Palm Springs
    (760) 864-1516

    60 N. Highland Springs Ave., Banning
    (951) 845-5984