SAINT LOUIS COUNTY, MO - The Saint Louis County Department of Health is strongly advising that all residents be vaccinated against the seasonal flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness and the St. Louis area is no exception.
“While the severity of this year’s flu season remains unpredictable, we know that an increasing number of people are getting sick with the flu and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the department.
She emphasized the importance of vaccination. “It’s not just about protecting yourself. If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread it to others,” she added.
Every year, experts around the world determine which types of influenza are most likely to be in circulation and the vaccine is modified accordingly. Currently, there is no shortage of flu vaccine or antiviral medication in the St. Louis area. The department will continue to monitor the availability of vaccine and antiviral medications in collaboration with health care providers.
Between 15 and 60 million Americans are infected by seasonal flu each flu season. Over 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to flu-related complications and around 36,000 die.
Other precautions being urged by the county health department are:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
Cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your sleeve.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Try to maintain a distance of three feet between you and others.
Stay home when you are sick or think you may be getting sick.