Valley News -

Officials: Cold and flu season is here, time for shots


Last updated 10/16/2018 at 2:14pm

RIVERSIDE - Riverside County's public health officer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 16 that influenza season has arrived, in urging county residents to get a flu shot.

To emphasize the need for inoculations, Dr. Cameron Kaiser cited the 100-year anniversary of the Pandemic of 1918, when the so-called "Spanish Flu'' rampaged across several continents.

Nearly 700,000 people died from flu-related health impacts in the U.S. at the time, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 500 million infections globally resulted in about 50 million deaths.

"Those numbers are staggering and should never happen again,'' Kaiser said. "But despite our many medical advancements since then, the best way to fight the flu is still to get your annual shot.''

Several supervisors did just that prior to the start of official business at the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside.

During the 2017-18 influenza season, 80,000 people died nationwide from complications stemming from flu. According to Kaiser, Riverside County accounted for 23 flu-related deaths involving residents under 65 years old over that period.

Kaiser acknowledged that last season's flu vaccines proved to be only 40 percent effective against the viral strains that spread throughout the county and state. However, even at the lower level of protection, "you're still 40 percent less likely to get the flu, and even if you do get it, it's usually less severe,'' he said.

Health officials recommended anyone over 6 months old be vaccinated.

According to the CDC, vaccinations have attendant risks, including causing infections, but those cases are rare.

The county Department of Public Health advises frequent hand-washing and "social distancing'' -- avoiding someone exhibiting symptoms -- to avoid contracting the flu, which is passed through droplets from a sick person's cough or sneeze. People fighting infections should minimize contact with others until their symptoms abate, health officials said.

Flu shots are available at the Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, any of the county's 10 health clinics, most pharmacies and doctors' offices.


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