Union Democrat staff

Flu season is on its way, and Dr. Dean Kelaita, health officer for both Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, issued a press release urging everyone 6 months or older to get a flu shot.

In California, flu cases usually begin to increase in late November or December, and it takes a couple of weeks after vaccination for the body to respond fully, stated a press release from the Calaveras Health and Human Services Agency.

“Deaths related to flu are tragic reminders that the flu virus needs to be taken very seriously,” Kelaita said in the news release. “A yearly flu shot is the best way to protect against infection and prevent others from coming down with the flu.”

This year’s vaccine is offered in injectable form only due to concerns about the effectiveness of the nasal spray vaccine, the release stated.

Each year, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and, sometimes, tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. Flu shots are needed every year to maintain protection, because the vaccine changes each season to match the viruses that are circulation.

Common symptoms of flu include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body ache. Children may also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

To stop the spread of flu or respiratory illnesses, people should also:

• Stay home when sick and limit contact with others.

• Cover coughs or sneezes with sleeves or disposable tissue.

• Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.

Flu vaccines are available at Calaveras County Public Health, 700 Mountain Ranch Road, C2, in San Andreas, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays and 8 a.m. to noon Thursdays. Call (209) 754-6460 for more information.

Vaccines are available at the Tuolumne County Health Department, 20111 Cedar Road, Sonora, from 1 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday. Call (209) 533-7401 for more information.