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Message from the Health Officer for Los Angeles County
Muntu Davis, MD, MPH


November 20, 2018


Influenza is here. Early immunization can prevent illness, hospitalization or death.

Dear Los Angeles County Residents,

It’s November! Almost time for the holidays. Have you gotten your influenza (“flu”) immunization? The traditional season for influenza is here. Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. These viruses are mainly spread when droplets, made when people cough, sneeze or talk, land in your nose or mouth or are inhaled into your lungs. While flu circulates worldwide throughout the year, the Flu season in Los Angeles County has started and typically runs from the first week of October through the end of March. Depending on the circulating flu virus, a person’s age, and their prior health conditions flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get immunized as soon as possible. Influenza immunizations remain an available and effective tool against the most common flu viruses during the flu season. So, get your flu immunization today and help prevent the flu. This is no time for complacency.

Anyone, including an ordinarily healthy person, can get the flu, and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age. However, the following groups of people are at high risk of developing serious complications if they get sick with influenza: people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years.

We must urgently come together as a community to reverse an unfortunate trend. Did you know that Los Angeles County recorded a higher influenza activity in the past 2017–18 season (Oct. 1, 2017–May 13, 2018) more than the previous five influenza seasons? Public Health recorded a total of 278 influenza associated deaths last flu season, exceeding any other flu season since the county initiated mandatory flu reporting.

The first and most important step in preventing flu and reducing the chance of you spreading flu is to get your flu immunization. Flu immunizations have been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.

Also, take the following everyday preventive actions to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu or a cold. Stay away from people who are sick, cover your coughs and sneezes and practice frequent handwashing. If you are sick, stay home and stay away from other people. This should be done until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance, or sweating) without the use of fever-reducing medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen, among others.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health offers flu vaccination at no charge to people without health insurance or whose healthcare provider does not offer flu vaccination. You can find your local public health center, and the many available influenza community outreach clinics here. They are listed by city, dates, and supervisorial districts.

If you have health insurance, please contact your regular health care provider or insurance provider to confirm the cost. The cost to get immunized of the flu varies at pharmacies and community clinics. You may need to call ahead to confirm the cost.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has also compiled the following toolkits designed to help schools/childcare centers, businesses, Los Angeles County workers and the community at large prevent the flu. These are printable materials explain the need for yearly flu immunization, highlight ways to prevent the flu, and offer targeted approaches to preventing the flu:

Your, your family and your friends overall good health is our priority here at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. We remain committed to our vision of creating, “Healthy People in Healthy Communities.” Be safe this Flu Season. Make immunization against the flu a high priority. Take those everyday preventive actions to help slow the spread of germs that cause the flu in our community.

More information on the 2018/2019 Flu Season in Los Angeles County is available at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/FluSeason/.

Sincerely,
Muntu Davis, MD, MPH
Los Angeles County Health Officer



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