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Flu season picking up steam

PRINCETON — Though the United States has had its slowest start in 29 years with the respiratory flu season, things are looking up, or rather down in this case, when it comes to increased reports of flu activity.

The Department of Communicable Disease Control (DCDC) has announced flu activity has picked up in February after a very slow start to the 2011-12 flu season. Fortunately, the majority of respiratory flu viruses analyzed are included in this year’s vaccine, the CDC stated in its recent report.

On Monday, Katie Main, director of health promotions for the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department, said flu vaccinations are still available to the public through the health department. Appointments should be made by calling the health department. The cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children with Medicare accepted for adults and Medicaid accepted for children.

With the flu season still in force, it is still not too late to get vaccinated, especially considering there has been some flu activity in the local area, Main said.

As in previous years, Main said the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC have recommended everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine each year. People at high risk of serious influenza complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people ages 65 years and older.

On Monday, Sue Cater, nurse for the Princeton High School and Princeton Elementary School districts, said there has been quite a bit of school absences this year, especially in the lower grades, but it seems most of those illnesses has been with the stomach flu or fevers, rather than the respiratory flu.

However, the best way to combat any type of flu, whether respiratory or stomach, is to wash hands, wash hands and to wash hands some more, Cater said. Also, if children or adults are sick, they should stay home from school or work for 24 hours after their flu is gone or the fever is broken. With kids coming back to school too soon after being sick, people would be surprised at just how quickly illnesses can spread, she said.

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