August 1, 2014

Share holiday spirit, not flu germs

If you haven’t already, health officials urge you to get vaccinated for influenza. The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone six months of age and older, especially in anticipation of the upcoming flu season.

Dan Hopfensperger is Program Director of the Wisconsin Immunization Program at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. “Influenza is circulating right now. It’s a low incidence, but you never know when it’s going to pick up and start hitting harder.”

You can get a flu shot from your doctor’s office, pharmacies, local public health departments and tribal health clinics. Those who range in age from 2 to 49 have the option of getting the nasal mist. Hopfensperger says the timing and duration of the flu season is difficult to predict. “I believe last year our flu season started hitting in earnest later in December, but some times it can start earlier and many times it starts later.”

Holiday gatherings can bring together people who are especially vulnerable to the flu virus, like the very old, the very young, and pregnant women — exposing everyone to viruses from other parts of the state, the country, or the world. Hopfensperger says it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect.

AUDIO: Dan Hopfensperger, state Health Department, recommends practicing the common sense basics of good hygiene. :41

In addition to the vaccine, Hopfensperger recommends practicing the common sense basics of good hygiene, including frequent hand washing with soap and water. He says if you’re sick, stay home from school or work, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, eat healthfully, get plenty of rest, don’t smoke, and clean commonly touched surfaces like door knobs, telephones, faucets, refrigerator door handles, etc.