Flu hits Plumas County - Health director encourages everyone to get vaccinated

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

  Flu has arrived in Plumas County.

  Public health staff recently surveyed emergency rooms, clinics and schools to check for instances of flu.


Preventing seasonal flu illness

What can I do to protect myself against the flu?

  The single best way to protect against the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months and older, especially people at high risk for developing serious complications from flu, get vaccinated each season.

What are other steps that can be taken to prevent flu illness?

  Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

  Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

  If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

  While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

  Also, antiviral medications, which can treat flu illness, may be used in certain circumstances to prevent the flu.


Can herbal, homeopathic or other folk remedies protect against the flu?

  There is no scientific evidence that any herbal, homeopathic or other folk remedies have any benefit against influenza.

How long can influenza viruses live on hard surfaces (such as books or doorknobs)?

  Studies have shown that human influenza viruses generally can survive on surfaces between two and eight hours.

What kills influenza viruses?

  Influenza viruses can be destroyed by heat (167 – 212 degrees F). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics) and alcohols are effective against influenza viruses if used in proper concentrations for a sufficient length of time. For example, alcohol-based hand rubs can be used in the absence of soap and water for hand washing.

What if soap and water are not available and alcohol-based products are not allowed in my facility?

  If soap and water are not available and alcohol-based products are not allowed, other hand sanitizers that do not contain alcohol may be useful.

“It’s highest at the west end,” Public Health Director Mimi Hall told the Plumas County Board of Supervisors during its Jan. 15 meeting, noting that the Lake Almanor Clinic has been impacted the most thus far.

  Hall said, “There was a spike in influenza-like illness after school went back” following the holiday break, noting that 1 in 5 Chester High School students were absent. That number has since dropped to 9 percent of students at the high school.

  Hall said she expects the flu to spread east and affect the entire county.

  She said the most important message she can share is: “It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine.”

  About 15 percent of the county’s population has already received a flu shot.

  Board Chairman Terry Swofford is not among them. “I got one last year and I got sick,” he said.

  “The vaccine can’t make you sick,” Hall said, noting that her own mother made the same assertion last year.

  However, there are different strains of flu and viruses that produce flu-like symptoms.

  Hall said that public health still has a good supply of flu vaccine designed for this year’s seasonal flu and it is free of charge. She said there is also a limited amount of flu mist and some pediatric doses available.

  Free flu vaccinations will be offered at Plumas County Public Health Agency today, Wednesday, Jan. 23, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. No appointment is necessary.

  At other times, an appointment is required to receive a flu shot. Call 283-6330  or 800-801-6330 for more information.

  Flu shots are available most days in Quincy at the courthouse annex, and in other communities via the following schedule: Greenville, first Thursday of the month; Portola, second and fourth Thursdays of the month; and Chester, third Thursday of the month. Appointments are needed and can be made by calling 283-6330.

  County residents can also check with their own health care providers.

  Hall said that the flu season began earlier this year and some people might have been caught unprepared. “It usually peaks at the end of February,” she said.

  If you contract the flu, the Centers for Disease Control recommends taking an anti-viral medication within 48 hours of noticing symptoms to lessen both the duration and the severity of the flu.

  “It also shortens the time that you are contagious,” Hall said.

  Her other advice: “If you are sick, stay home.”

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