BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Health Services began tracking the flu in October, and this year, they have confirmed cases a little earlier than usual. Heather Kaisner, with County Public Health, tells KBND News, "We get weekly reports from most local labs and they let us know how many flu tests they've performed and how many of those were positive. In the last couple of weeks, we're definitely seeing an uptick in cases, which means flu is here in our community."
She says getting the vaccine is the best way to make sure you don't contract the flu. If you have vacation plans, you want to think about getting it sooner rather than later, "The flu vaccine, once you get it, can take up to two weeks to build an immune response so you're protected, so if folks are traveling over the holidays, going on planes, that can cause germs to spread pretty easily, you want to think about getting your flu vaccine soon."
Because the vaccine has a time delay, following a few simple rules can help: "The big one is really good handwashing with soap and water." Kaisner also suggests covering your nose and mouth with tissue or your elbow when you cough and sneeze, not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, disinfecting surfaces, and just being considerate. "All of us I know have trouble staying home when we're sick and getting enough rest. And really, we shouldn't be going back to work or school until 24 hours after our fever subsides."
A flu shot is especially recommended for people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, people regularly around babies under six months of age, and all health care workers.