Flu season is here and you may be wondering how you can protect yourself and your children from illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a yearly flu shot is the best way to protect against influenza (flu).

Influenza is a contagious viral respiratory disease and everyone is at-risk. While illness from influenza can be mild for some populations, children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) are among higher risk populations for getting the flu. For high risk groups—such as the CYSHCN population which includes children with chronic conditions or medically complex health issues—the flu can be a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes serious complications. Other high risk groups include older adults and pregnant women.

Nationally, flu season can begin as early as October and last until May. In many people who receive a flu shot, it can take up to two weeks for the vaccination to become effective. For that reason, it’s recommended that you get your flu shot early in the season. The CDC recommends all people age 6 months and older get a flu vaccination.

In addition to getting a seasonal flu shot, everyone can practice good habits to stay healthy and avoid the flu. These simple actions can help stop the spread of germs:

• Wash hands frequently.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.

• Avoid contact with people who are sick.

• Cover mouth with upper sleeve or with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

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• Don’t share eating utensils, cups and straws.

• Stay home when sick, especially if you have a fever.

Many healthcare providers offer flu vaccinations, as do several pharmacies. Flu shots are also available at the Coconino County Public Health Services District’s Flagstaff Clinic, 2625 N. King St., and at several community clinics scheduled throughout the county.

For more information visit coconino.az.gov/health or call 679-7222 or toll-free at 1-877-679-7272.

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