Flu activity in Arkansas is in the “very high” category, according to the CDC. At 11 out of 13 points, flu is very active across the state. Since October 2, more than 7,000 cases have been reported in the state, but the Health Department points out that many more cases may exist. Not all cases are reported.
Of cases in Arkansas this year, 90% are type A and 10% are type B. 14 deaths have been reported so far.
Don’t delay your flu vaccine
Flu vaccines are available now at MANA clinics. Plan to receive your flu shot as soon as possible. It takes two weeks for the flu shot to become effective, so it is important to get your flu shot as early as you can.
Flu season runs from October to May. Each season, the flu vaccine protects against the most common forms of the flu for that year. This means that each year’s flu vaccine is different and specially designed for the current year. Your flu shot from last year does not protect you for this year.
Who needs a flu shot?
Everyone 6 months or older should have a flu shot. Anyone can catch the flu, but some people are more likely to have complications. Some of the factors that make people more susceptible:
- being 5 years old and younger
- being age 65 and older
- obesity (a body mass index over 40)
- heart or lung disease
- a weakened immune system
- having had a stroke
- blood disorders like sickle cell anemia
If you see yourself in any of those descriptions, you are more likely to be at risk for complications. Be sure to get your flu vaccine as soon as possible.
However, everyone should have a flu shot each year.
Avoiding the flu
During the pandemic, there were far fewer cases of the flu than usual. This was probably because of the precautions people took against infectious diseases during that time. You can help avoid the flu by following those precautions:
- Stay home if you’re sick and don’t gather with people who are ill.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Clean high-touch surfaces in your home, school, and office.
- Avoid touching your face, since that can spread infection through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
If you still feel more comfortable social distancing or wearing a mask, go ahead.
And of course your regular healthy habits — getting enough sleep, managing stress, eating right, and exercising regularly — always help you keep your immune system strong.