Protecting Yourself from the Flu

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EUGENE, Ore. — Flu season is coming on strong, and local health officials say everyone should take extra precautions to stay safe.

According to Lane County Public Health, only about 30 percent of residents are vaccinated, which they say is troubling.

The flu is contagious, so if you or your child is coughing, that should be a sign to stay home.

“You cough at least four to six feet beyond yourself, so you’re easily getting people sick unless you do a chicken cough into the elbow. That helps keep it from going out or covering your mouth,” said Dr. Geoffrey Simmons with Sacred Heart Medical Center.

If you experience fever and aches with the coughing, Dr. Simmons says to call a doctor.

Simmons says he’s had numerous patients lately with respiratory problems who are concerned about the flu.

Until Monday, Lane County Public Health said it hadn’t had many people setting up flu shot appointments.

“We’ve scheduled 46 appointments. When we started this morning, we were at zero. We’ve had over a hundred calls about people wanting to get their flu vaccine,” said Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health.

For children ages 8 years old and under who are getting flu shots, Public Health says to follow CDC recommendations, which changed after the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. It says children who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses. For those who have already gotten shots before, the CDC says a doctor or health care provider can tell you whether the two doses are recommended or not.

“If you haven’t received two doses of H1N1 since 2010, that’s what you should get,” says Davis.

Overall, health officials recommend the shots for everyone.

“The risk of not taking the shot exceeds the risk of taking it,” said Dr. Simmons.

Davis agrees, saying, “Not just the health department, but doctors, physicians, nurses, the entire health community agrees on one thing, and that’s vaccination is our number one best defense against these bugs.”

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