MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Have you been hit by the flu? If not, count yourself among the lucky. The Alabama Department of Public Health says levels of the very contagious respiratory illness are increasing across the state.
Nationally, the CDC is reporting 21 states with high levels of influenza and five states with moderate levels.
"This increased rate of flu activity is concerning because influenza can be a serious disease for anyone, including children, pregnant women, and previously healthy young adults," said Dr. Burnestine Taylor, ADPH's Medical Officer for Disease Control and Prevention.
FLU SYMPTOMS: fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue.
An annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone six months and older and is the best prevention against getting the flu, ADPH says. Vaccinations are available from physicians, pharmacists and county health departments.
ADPH says citizens should request the "quadrivalent vaccine," which protects against four influenza strains, because one of the strains in circulation in Alabama (Type B/Yamagata) is only included in the quadrivalent vaccine.
REDUCE THE RISK OF SPREAD: In addition to taking the flu vaccine, you can reduce or prevent the flu's spread by staying home when sick, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue/cloth when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.
"It's not too late to get a flu shot to protect against this serious disease. People become protected about two weeks after receiving the vaccine," said Dr. Taylor.
Public Health will be conducting a statewide flu vaccine awareness campaign "Start 2018 Off On the Right Foot" beginning in January to educate the public and remind everyone it is not too late to get the flu vaccine.
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