Media Release
Media Release
Press Contact: Vicki Alexander , MD, (510) 981-5301

FLU SEASON UNDERWAY
How To Find Flu Clinic

Berkeley, California (Saturday, November 12, 2005) - Influenza, also called the flu, is a contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus. It can cause mild to severe illness. Every year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu complications and approximately 36,000 people die from flu.  Normally, the height of California's flu season is from late December through January.  Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.

There have been no cases of Avian Influenza H5N1 in humans and no recent cases in chickens in the United States.  Enhanced surveillance is on going.  Specific information about the Avian Flu can be found at  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/.

The flu begins with an abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, extreme tiredness, sore throat and dry cough that often make people sick enough to keep them in bed for several days.  Headache and runny or stuffy nose sometimes occur. Stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea also can occur but are more common in children than adults. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. Complications of flu can include pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Children may get sinus problems and ear infections.

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination each fall. Residents of Berkeley who have insurance (i.e.- private health insurance, MediCal, Blue Cross Managed Care, etc) should first check with their provider to receive the Flu Vaccine. The American Lung Association (ALA), in Partnership with Maxim Health Systems, has developed an electronic influenza vaccine clinic locator.  To use the locator, go to www.flucliniclocator.org, enter a zip code and a date (or dates) and receive information about clinics scheduled in your area.

To be eligible to receive the vaccine in Berkeley clinics:

You must be a Berkeley resident, AND ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:

·        60 years of age or older;

·        6-23 months of age;

·        Adult or child over 6 months old with a chronic heart or lung condition, including asthma;

·        Adult or child over 6 months old who needed regular medical care or was in a hospital during the previous year because of a metabolic disease (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicines or by infection with HIV);

·        Child 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy;

·        Woman who will be pregnant during the flu season;

·        Adult or child over 6 months of age with any condition that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions (such as brain or spinal cord injury or disease, seizure disorder or nerve or muscle disorder);

·        Person in close contact with someone in one of the high risk groups above. This includes health care workers, household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children 0 to 23 months of age, and close contacts of people 65 years and older; (Infants 0 – 6 months of age cannot receive the flu vaccine but need to be protected),

·        Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities that house persons of any age who have chronic medical conditions.

Aspirin or medications with salicylates, common ingredients in many cold medications, should not be given to children or adolescents sick with the flu or fever.  These ingredients have been linked with the development of Reye's syndrome, which can lead to coma, brain damage and even death in children and teenagers suffering from the flu, flu-like illnesses or chickenpox. 

Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. Viruses usually spread from person to person, though sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu virus on it and then touching their nose or mouth. Flu virus can be passed on a day before symptoms develop.

Easy steps to limit the spread of the flu virus and other respiratory illnesses:  

·        Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water;

·        Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing;

·        If you use a tissue or handkerchief, be sure to wash your hands before touching anything;

·        Stay home when you are ill;

·        Avoid close contact with people who are ill.

The City of Berkeley, Public Health Division has a very limited supply of the flu vaccine remaining.  The vaccine will be provided to eligible residents of Berkeley only until supplies are no longer available.  Please check here for updates on vaccine availability.

Flu shots are available at the Public Health Clinic, 830 University Avenue, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00pm to 4:00pm until vaccine supplies are gone.  There is a suggested donation of $2.00, however no one will be turned away.   For more information, call the City of Berkeley, Public Health Clinic at 510-981-5350, or the Nurse of the Day Advice Line at 510-981-5300.

For more information about seasonal influenza:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm 

For information on Avian Influenza, including guidance for clinicians:

http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/dcdc/VRDL/html/FLU/H5N1/Main Avian Flu page.htm 

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/ 

For information on Pandemic Influenza:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic.htm 

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