The Arizona Department of Health Services announced last week that influenza activity is now widespread in Arizona.
Pinal County has also identified this recent trend upward in flu activity. As of Dec. 20, the Pinal County Public Health Department has confirmed 244 cases of influenza compared to 14 at this time last year. Pinal County also identified its first influenza related death of the season this week, an elderly resident of the county that passed away after being admitted to a local hospital.
“If you are thinking about getting a flu shot now is the time to do it,” said Graham Briggs, Manager for Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology with Pinal County Public Health. “Since only the sickest people seek medical care when they have influenza our reported cases represent just a sliver of the overall activity occurring in our community.”
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive vaccination each season.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and can lead to hospitalization and death. The flu virus spreads when someone with influenza coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can also catch influenza by touching a surface or object that the virus lands on and then touching your face. People at higher risk for severe disease include those with asthma, diabetes, pregnant women, people that may be immune-compromised and adults over the age of 65.
Even if you are vaccinated, there are more ways to prevent the spread of influenza:
* Wash your hands
* Cover your cough
* Stay home when you are sick
* Avoid touching your face
Most primary care providers as well as pharmacies and other medical providers offer flu shots. Interested residents are also able to get influenza vaccination free of charge for all children under 18 years old, and at low or no cost for adults at Pinal County Public Health clinics.
For additional questions about influenza or to make an appointment at the Health Department for vaccine please call (520) 866-6300 in Pinal County.
Pinal County Health Clinics addresses and hours:
• Kearny Clinic – 355 Alden Road; open the third Wednesday of month from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Mammoth Clinic – 110 Main Street; open Thursday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Superior Clinic – 60 East Main Street; open the second Wednesday of month from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.