We have officially entered influenza season in the Portland-metro region. The season usually peaks in January to March, and can last as late as May.
The flu, which is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, can cause mild to serious illness.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get your flu shot. If you have already received yours, encourage your family, friends, coworkers and others to protect themselves and get their flu shot.
Where to get a flu shot if you have insurance:
- Your doctor or clinic
- Enter your zip code into the Flu Vaccine Finder
Where to get a flu shot if you do not have insurance:
Preventing the flu
There are several steps you can take to limit your chances of getting the flu. They are:
- Wash your hands often with warm soapy water 15 to 20 seconds
- Limit close contact with sick people
- Limit your contact with others when sick
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have germs
- Stay at home if you're sick so you don't run the risk of infecting others
- Getting the flu shot for everyone older than six months
- Because the flu shot can take up to two weeks to be effective, get a flu shot now to reduce your likelihood of catching the flu. And remember: you cannot get the flu from a flu shot.
Signs and symptoms of the flu
If you think you may have the flu, signs and symptoms include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Cough/sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
Some are especially vulnerable to the flu
Some people are more likely to have serious problems from the flu that can lead to hospitalization or even death. Those populations are:
- People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease
- Anyone younger than 5 or older than 65
- Pregnant women
If you have one of these conditions, or live or work closely with someone who does, it is especially important to get vaccinated against the flu. If you think you have the flu, contact your health care provider.