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Health district says flu has arrived in force


The Grant County Health District has received reports of positive rapid tests for influenza A within the last seven days.

Health Officer Dr. Alexander Brzezny issued an alert to the Grant County healthcare community and media.

“Be aware of increasing influenza activity in Grant County and Washington State,” Brzezny said, “as well as influenza in residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF) with acute illness. All healthcare facilities should enforce their policies regarding healthcare worker’s influenza vaccinations and masking.”

The district said a flu outbreak has occurred at one long-term care facility, which is working with the district to control the spread of the illness.

Noting that the holiday season brought many people together, the GCHD urged everyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot as soon as possible. Flu activity typically increases in the winter months when people spend more time indoors around each other. People who haven’t been vaccinated against the flu still have time to get the vaccine before the season reaches its peak.

Recommendations urged by the health district:

• Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot this season.

• Only injectable flu vaccines (flu shot) are recommended this season, not the nasal spray.

• Flu shots do work. CDC found that flu shots reduced a child’s risk of ending up at the doctor’s office sick with flu by more than 60 percent last season.

• Children six months through eight years of age need either one or two doses of vaccine.

• Children six months through eight years getting vaccinated for the first time, or who have only received one dose of vaccine in the past, should get two doses this season. The first dose should be given as soon as the vaccine is available to “prime” the immune system. The second dose should be given at least 28 days later to build more and longer-lasting immune protection. Children who only get one dose, but need two doses, are likely to have less or possibly no protection from that single dose.

• If you or a family member are sick with a flu–like sickness, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine), unless you need to leave to receive medical care. If your doctor prescribes an antiviral medicine, finish the entire prescription.

 People with the flu can make others sick one day before symptoms appear and up to five days after symptoms begin. Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and throw it away. It is very important to wash your hands often. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers work well when soap and warm water are not available.

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