Here's what you need to know.
Five people in North Carolina and SC have died from the flu this season. Influenza season occurs primarily from October through May, often peaking in February.
Hospitals in Gloversville and Amsterdam have joined with hospitals throughout the Capital Region in procedures to prevent the spread of influenza now that state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has declared the flu prevalent statewide.
Flu activity is now widespread in the Tri-Cities and it has forced two local hospitals to place visitation restrictions in order to protect patients.
Gastrointestinal illness is generally caused by viruses and bacteria and occassionally from the toxins created by bacteria. Viruses such as the flu like colder temperatures and low humidity.
Immunization has been one of the most effective weapons against many maladies.
"That's an easy way to check on people, and it means a lot", Rinaldi said.
Hospital officials advise that it is still important to get the flu vaccine, as it offers protection against flu circulating strains and will reduce the likelihood of severe illness.
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It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between a full-fledged flu case and a bad cold. The hospitalization rate was highest for those 65 and older. If someone had caught the flu previously, they could have full or partial immunity to new flu viruses.
DPHHS says cases of the flu are slightly higher then they were at this time in 2016. We are entering the peak of flu season much earlier this year, so if you haven't gotten a flu shot yet, please get one. This strain, called H3N2, is considered particularly virulent. Right now, approximately 78 percent of the early strains that are circulating in the US appear to be this H3N2 strain.
"Getting the flu is an very bad experience".
In general, flu vaccinations have an excellent safety record, but their efficacy varies greatly. "The influenza vaccination is inactivated".
Each year, only about 4 in 10 adults in the USA receive the flu vaccine.
The Peterson Health staff has the following pieces of advice, saying the flu can knock you off your feet; but knowing how to pamper oneself can help you feel better faster.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone at least 6 months old.
"Other than that, good hygiene, washing your hands with warm soapy water and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze", Brake said, adding, "If you are sick, stay home so other people aren't exposed". If you're sick, stay home.
The vaccine is available from 8 a.m.to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.to noon Friday at the health department clinics at 2700 NE 63, 2149 SW 59 and 4113 NW 10.