H-CENTRAL COAST

Jan 3, 2014 11:14 AM by Kathrene Herndon, KSBY News

Vaccinations encouraged by local health officials as flu season begins to peak

Flu season is here and local health experts want everyone to be protected.

H1N1 has already affected people in 10 states. Most cases were reported in southern parts of the U.S.

In San Luis Obispo County, five people have been hospitalized with the flu, according to health officials.

Santa Barbara County health officials say it is still early in the season, so there have not been many cases reported.

They say the best way to be protected is to get a flu shot.

"Right now, flu season is starting to peak," says Michelle Shoresman, emergency preparedness program manager for San Luis Obispo County Public Health Services. "Typically, in San Luis Obispo County, flu season peaks in January, so it's a good time to get that extra protection."

She adds that this year's flu vaccine does have protection against the H1N1 virus that is circulating.

For those worried about the effects of the vaccine, Shoresman says, "The flu shot does not actually give you the flu. What happens is a lot of times people will get flu-like symptoms right after they've gotten the flu and that's most likely something that was already circulating in them or something they were exposed to before the flu vaccine has taken effect."

Flu symptoms include congestion, fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, and nausea.

"If you can't get the vaccine, or just in general, good hygiene, washing your hands, staying home when you're sick, staying away from people who are sick, that's the best way to protect yourself as well," Shoresman says.

She reminds people that even though it takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine for it to become effective, it is still not too late to get it.

To find where vaccines are available in your area, click here or call your local health care provider or pharmacy.

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