By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
The holidays are just around the corner.
And so is flu season.
“When we’re spending more time indoors, more time particularly around the holidays with friends and family, we just tend to share more germs,” said Ellie Millan, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Mosaic Medical in Bend. “So you’ll see an increase in infections during the winter months, absolutely.”
Millan says she has seen more cases of Influenza B this year, than in previous years. And that’s before Central Oregon has even reached its peak flu season.
“So far it’s been pretty mild up until about two weeks ago when we really started to see an increase in flu activity in Central Oregon,” said Jenny Faith, a local epidemiologist. “So we usually start monitoring in early October and we just started to notice an up-tick a few weeks ago.”
Last year, the flu season wasn’t at its worst in our region until mid-March. It was early January the year before that.
According to Deschutes County Public Health, about 25% of flu tests taken in our area this week came back positive.
Those numbers are expected to increase as the season progresses.
“We are definitely starting to see an up-tick now, last week and this week,” Faith said. “So we might be headed toward our peak now, but we just have to wait and see the next couple weeks of data.”
Health professionals say your best bet at avoiding the flu is by getting vaccinated.
“Influenza vaccine is incredibly important. It helps to ideally prevent from getting sick with the flu, but then almost more importantly prevent complications from the flu” Millan said. “So that’s the first, most important step.”
Millan tells her patients it’s never too late to get vaccinated…but the sooner you do it the better.
“Now is definitely the time to go if you haven’t been vaccinated yet,” she said. “It does take two weeks to amount immunity and protection from influenza, so I would say go see your primary care provider or visit a pharmacy for your flu shot.”