As flu season begins, CCPHD shares health and safety tips

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PITTSBORO — The flu season is under way, which means Chatham County residents need to take precautions against two viral infections that are making their way around the population. Thankfully, there are things residents can do to protect themselves against both the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

“Remember: The flu ends with you,” said Mike Zelek, Chatham County Public Health Director. “Anyone can get flu, even healthy people, and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age. The best way to prevent flu is getting a flu vaccine each year.”

Here’s some things to know:

The flu

Flu is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, with symptoms appearing suddenly.

Common symptoms include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and vomiting/diarrhea.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reduced population immunity due to the lack of flu virus activity since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic could result in an early and possibly severe flu season.

The same protective measures that slow the spread of COVID-19 could slow the spread of the seasonal flu also. That includes properly wearing a mask in public indoor places, practicing social distancing and washing your hands with warm soap and water for 20 seconds frequently.

Although anyone can get flu and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years.

You can get sick from the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, as they come from two different viruses.

The flu vaccine

The best way to prevent flu is getting a flu vaccine each year.

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, with a few exceptions.

Flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. It does not provide protection against COVID-19.

The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine can be administered at the same time.

This season, all flu vaccines will be designed to protect against the four viruses that research indicates will be most common.

Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.

Flu vaccines are now available at Chatham County Public Health Department as well as many other locations across the county, including local pharmacies, doctor’s offices and more. The CCPHD offers the flu vaccine at its Siler City location, 1000 S. Tenth Ave., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To learn more about the seasonal flu, visit www.chathamcountync.gov/flu. To learn more about the Chatham County Public Health Department, visit www.chathamcountync.gov/publichealth or www.facebook.com/chathamhealth.

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