A recent headline on AzFamily.com certainly was an attention-getter. It read, “Health officials see 500% increase in flu cases in Arizona.” That number is mind boggling and seems almost too big to be true.
“Last year at this time, we were seeing a little bit over a hundred. This time, we’re at 670. We need to let people know it’s not too late to get your flu shot.”
To that end, this week is National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 3rd – 9th). Those who do not get a flu shot often point to the effectiveness of the vaccine, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) insists the best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated every year.
The ADHS website echoes that sentiment and pointed out, “Every season, roughly 4,000 Arizonans are hospitalized and 700 die from influenza.”
Alani Murrieta died on November 28 from a flu that turned into pneumonia one day after she went to an urgent care clinic. She is survived by two young children.
Flu and pneumonia is the eighth most common cause of death for Americans. But according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been fewer deaths from the flu lately than usual.
“Influenza is a nasty virus that can attack a perfectly healthy child or young adult in [the] prime of their life,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (Schaffner did not examine Murrieta.) “It’s just an ominous annual lesson.” He noted Murrieta’s case may reinforce that everyone should get vaccinated.
As we noted in a recent blog, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) shared a number of simple tips to help stop the spread of the flu virus.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean your hands often—especially before entering and after exiting the hospital room.
- Use soap and water to wash your hands or an alcohol-based hand rub to disinfect your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Get your flu shot. The best way to prevent the flu and spreading illness is by getting vaccinated each year.
Whether you get a flu shot every year or you never get one, we’d love to hear your thoughts on why. While we believe it is important to be vaccinated, we also believe it is important to listen to a wide variety of viewpoints. Generating meaningful conversations about the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!