Coconino County Public Health reports increase in flu cases

County residents encouraged to obtain flu shots, 110 cases of disease reported so far this season

The Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) reports an increase in flu activity. As a result, health officials are urging residents who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated.

Coconino County has confirmed 110 cases of influenza so far this season, which is a sharp increase from the three confirmed cases reported at this time last year. The Arizona Department of Health Services reported "widespread" flu activity for the first week of 2013, with "widespread" being the highest possible category.

"Reported cases represent only a small percentage of those in our communities who actually have the flu because many people do not seek treatment and testing," said Kimbal Babcock, CCPHSD interim chief health officer. "Remember that the flu season can continue into late spring, so there is still time to get your flu shot to protect yourself and your family."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone more than six months old be should be vaccinated, but especially those who are at a higher risk of illness, including:

• pregnant women;

• children younger than five years old;

• adults 65-years-old or older;

• those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes;

• people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities; and

• those caring for at high-risk individuals, including health care and day care workers.

Healthcare providers, supermarkets and pharmacies all offer low-cost flu vaccines. Individuals can also get a flu shot at the CCPHSD Clinic, 2625 N. King St. in Flagstaff.

The cost for a flu shot at a CCPHSD Clinic is $25 for adults and $15 for children 18 years and younger. As a courtesy, the Health District will bill your insurance company, but those seeking a vaccination should check with their insurance provider to determine if they are covered. No one will be denied service due to inability to pay.

Stay healthy

In addition to getting a flu shot, practicing good habits will help people maintain proper health. These simple actions can stop the spread of germs and help protect you and others from getting sick:

• washing hands frequently during the flu season;

• avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth;

• avoiding contact with people who are sick;

• covering the mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands afterward. If a tissue is not available, sneeze or cough into a sleeve; and

• staying home when sick.

More information on the flu is available on the CCPHSD website at www.coconino.az.gov/health. Appointment availability is available by calling the CCPHSD Flu Information Line at (928) 679-7300 or toll-free at (877) 679-7272.

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