Flu season peak looms

January and February will most likely bring the peak of influenza of the year, and the most efficient way to protect yourself from catching the illness is to get the vaccine.

According to Shannon Libbey, of the Ohio Department of Health Office of Public Affairs, we have not seen the peak of activity yet.

“The most safe and effective way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting a vaccine, so now is a great time to get it because the flu is going to get worse before it gets better,” she said. “If you get your vaccine now, you can build up your protection before the height of the flu season.”

The flu comes in different strains each year; Libbey said every year there is an examination and there is an attempt to put the strains that will be most prevalent throughout the season into the vaccine.

The dominate strain this year is the H1N1 virus, which caused the swine flu of 2009-2010.

“It is true the flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective; however, it is still the safest and most effective protection we know of,” she said.

Libbey said the seasonal flu tends to be particularly dangerous for certain high risk groups.

“It is particularly important that they should get the vaccine, and that’s children six months and above, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and the elderly,” she said. “Then also health care workers and care takers.”

According to Libbey, another group that should get vaccines are young people and middle-aged people.

“This years vaccine has both seasonal flu strains in it and also H1N1 strain. H1N1 primarily attacks young and middle-aged people, which aren’t necessarily the groups that worry the most about the flu,” she said.

Cindy Jones, Director of Nursing for the Auglaize County Health Department, presented November’s flu statistics to the department’s board in December.

At that time, it was reported that there was sporadic activity in Ohio, with 25 people in Auglaize county presenting influenza-like symptoms.

According to Jones, 84 percent of those who tested positive for the flu were four months of age to 18 years old. The other 16 percent was in the age range of 26 to 42.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Jan. 2 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.