Guest column: Arizona sees 758 percent increase in flu activity

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Photo/AZDHS

Cara Christ, Director of Arizona Department of Health Services

Flu is now widespread in Arizona. As of this week, there have been 2,976 cases of flu reported compared to 347 for the same time period in 2016, which is a 758 percent increase in flu activity. This is the highest number of seasonal cases this early since influenza tests became reportable. During the past two seasons, Arizona did not reach widespread activity until February. Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu, and with the disease spreading quickly in Arizona the time to get vaccinated is now.

It can take up to two weeks to build full immunity to the flu after you are vaccinated, so I encourage everyone who has not yet had a flu shot to get one today before the holidays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive the influenza vaccine each season. This is particularly important for those at risk for complications, such as adults aged 65 years and older, people with asthma and diabetes, and pregnant women. People can find a place to get vaccinated at vaccinefinder.org.

Even if you are vaccinated, there are more ways to prevent the spread of influenza:

Wash your hands

Cover your cough

Stay home when you are sick

Avoid touching your face

More information or for answer to questions about the flu vaccine is available by contacting the ADHS Immunization Program Office at (602) 364-3630 or your county health department.

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