Health officials: Start off your new year with a flu shot - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Health officials: Start off your new year with a flu shot

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - If your New Year's resolutions include being healthier, getting a flu shot would be a good start, San Diego County health officials said.

Influenza activity in the region usually intensifies in January and February, and the flu season typically lasts through the end of March or early April, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

Flu infections are already running well ahead of last year's pace, the HHSA said. So far in this "flu season," 607 cases have been confirmed, compared to 359 last year.

Agency officials said no one has died yet from flu-related causes this winter. However, the last flu season saw 70 deaths, mostly among people who were elderly or had pre-existing medical conditions.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone at least 6 months of age get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine, which health officials say is safe and effective, takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza, such as those who have chronic medical conditions, are pregnant, elderly, or live with or care for others who are at higher risk.

Other suggestions to avoid getting sick are washing hands thoroughly and often; using hand sanitizers; staying away from sick people; avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth; cleaning commonly touched surfaces; and staying home and avoiding contact with others if you're sick.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors offices and retail pharmacies. Those without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available online at www.sdiz.org or by calling 2-1-1.

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