It’s that time of year again.
The colder temperatures mean the winter season is fast approaching and the flu virus will soon be in full effect. Now is the time to take preventative measures to the best of your ability to keep you and your loved ones healthy.
According to the Utah Department of Health, last year saw influenza-like activity peaking during December. They stated that the total number of influenza-associated hospitalizations was second-highest out of the previous five years, just behind the 2014-15 season.
The UDOH report also says the flu caused a statewide hospitalization total of 1,470 cases for the 2016-17 season. More than half of this total came from the 65-and-older age group.
The flu virus is highly contagious, and spreads through coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or airspace. Common symptoms of influenza are fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing, and general weakness or fatigue.
Nearly five to 20 percent of Americans on average will get the flu each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Center for Health and Counseling is offering free flu shots to the first 400 Salt Lake Community College students who visit their offices. After that limit, they will cost $15 for students.
Most insurances cover flu shots with a $0 copay through a physician’s office, Walmart, Rite Aid or Walgreens. Prices vary at these commercial locations for those without insurance, with the quadrivalent flu vaccine — protecting against an extra B strain flu virus — found lowest for $19.99 at Costco, with no membership required.
There are other simple, yet effective methods to minimize your chances of contracting the flu: avoid close contact with people, stay home if you are sick, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, wash your hands, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces around your home.
If you or a loved one are experiencing flu-like symptoms, contact a health care provider as soon as possible.