Oct 1, 2012 9:18 PM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News

Flu season sets in on Central Coast

It may be hot outside, but we're heading for some cooler weather and that means more chances of getting sick.

The Center Disease Control and Prevention says today is the start of flu season.

It's a little early to catch the flu bug, but doctors say now is the time to take some steps to prevent it.

"Probably the biggest thing you can do to prevent influenza is to get a flu shot," Claire Grantham, Infections Preventions Specialist at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, said.

Local hospitals and public health departments are following that advice. This year's vaccine has two new strains to fight the upcoming virus.

"Here at Sierra Vista, we've been vaccinating our staff since the first of September," Grantham said.

Starting today, any staff not vaccinated at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center will be wearing a surgical mask through the end of March. It's a patient safety initiative, Grantham said, because sometimes the flu can be contagious without showing any symptoms.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, sore throat and cough.

Grantham says there are other ways people can fight off germs by washing hands and covering your cough.

But hospital staff says don't assume you're in the clear if you have had flu-like symptoms already.

"A lot of people sometimes have a mild fever and think they have the flu when, in fact, they don't," Paige Batson, Santa Barbara County Director of Public Health Nursing, said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention highly recommends everyone get the flu vaccination, especially elders and children.

To find a vaccination near you, click here.



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