While Plumas County finds itself facing a flu epidemic, Lassen County and the rest of California are experiencing moderate levels of the seasonal disease. Some states face severe outbreaks of the flu.
Steve Tank, a public health nurse with Lassen County, advised residents, “The flu hasn’t reached epidemic proportions here. We’re getting cases, but not at the epidemic level. It hasn’t hit as hard in Lassen County yet, but it’s going to.”
Tank said the predominate strain of the flu virus is particularly severe this year. He said reports that this year’s flu vaccine did not include protection from this virus are incorrect.
“It seems to be the one — H3N2 — they got in the vaccine,” Tank said, “but this one tends to have severe symptoms.” He also noted, “No vaccine is 100 percent.”
If you get the vaccine and still come down with the flu, your symptoms may be less severe, and you may recover quicker.
Tank said a couple of years ago when researchers missed the predominate flu virus, he got a flu shot and then caught the flu. He was sick for about a week. But his wife, who did not get vaccinated, got the flu and was sick for about a month.
“Even if it doesn’t match, sometimes the flu shot helps anyway,” Tank said. “You may get the flu, but you may not get it as bad.”
It’s still not too late to get a flu shot, but remember it takes about two weeks for it to become effective.
If you want to get a flu shot, Tank said, “Don’t dilly dally.”
Those who come down with the flu should see their health care provider right away because antiviral medications may help reduce the severity of the illness if their taken in the first few days.
“It seems to work pretty good if they catch it early,” Tank said. “If it’s gone on for a couple of days it doesn’t seem to work so well. It’s in the early stages where it works the best.”
The best advice Tank can give is, “If you’re sick, stay home. You don’t want pass on the gift no one else wants. Don’t go to work and try to tough it out when you’re sick because everyone else at work will get sick, too.”