Flu season picks up in Alaska

Flu activity is high right now in Alaska. It’s better to get your flu shot early, ideally before the end of October, but a flu shot now can still help protect you through the rest of flu season. Even if you’ve already had the flu, a flu shot can potentially protect you from getting a different strain of the flu (if you happen to be that unfortunate)! A flu shot is recommended annually for everyone aged six months or older. This year's vaccine can cut your risk of getting the flu by about 50 percent and make the flu less severe if you do get sick. 

Flu can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, hospitalization or even death. Flu vaccine can be particularly lifesaving in young children, who have a less developed immune system than healthy adults, and also in older adults.

Why is it important to get a flu vaccine every year? Flu viruses are constantly changing, so flu vaccines are updated annually to provide the best possible protection. You may still get sick even if you have had a flu shot, but studies show vaccination reduces the severity of the flu. It’s a myth that you can get the flu from flu vaccine. Flu shots contain inactivated viruses, or no flu virus at all. You may get minor side effects, however, that include soreness, low grade fever and aches.

Alaska sees flu cases year-round but they typically peak in early winter. This year, flu in Alaska began to pick up at the end of December and spiked dramatically in February. Flu activity typically doesn’t decline in Alaska until March or April.

Besides getting an annual flu shot, stop the spread of germs by washing your hands. If you do get the flu, limit contact with others as much as possible. Take antiviral drugs if your health care provider prescribes them. Learn more on the DHSS influenza webpage or the CDC flu website.
DHSS also posts influenza surveillance data including the Alaska Weekly Flu Snapshot which includes totals of lab-confirmed flu cases and cases by region.

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