4
| Health |

Health Department Urges Flu Shots As State Sees Triple Last Year’s Flu Activity

Arizona's health department is urging residents to get flu shots, as the state's flu season gets off to an abnormally active start.
Arizona's health department is urging residents to get flu shots, as the state's flu season gets off to an abnormally active start.
Department of Defense
^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

If you’re traveling through Arizona this weekend — or even exposing yourself to new germs from extended family at Thanksgiving dinner — don’t forget to wash your hands.

Even better, the state health department says, make a stop on your way out of town to get your annual flu shot.

That’s especially important this year, according to the department, because Arizona is seeing an abnormally early spike in flu activity this year.

“This is a much earlier season than just about every other season that we’ve been tracking,” Jessica Rigler, assistant director for public health preparedness at the Arizona Department of Health Services, told Phoenix New Times.

Rigler said the state has already recorded 950 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases this season, more than three times the 290 cases recorded at the same time in 2018. The number of cases has doubled weekly since the start of the season in September, Rigler said. There's also an early prevalence of influenza B, which usually doesn't emerge until later in the season.

Another warning sign of a potentially severe season ahead is the fact that more than half the cases reported so far this year have been in children, according to ADHS. Kids are “better germ spreaders” than adults, and could infect more people, Rigler said.

Some people may think it’s too late to get a flu vaccine, but it’s not, according to ADHS.

“The best protection against the flu is the flu vaccine,” Rigler said, and the sooner you get it, the better.

Unfortunately, getting the flu shot now may not protect you from the cesspool of germs you’ll encounter around friends or relatives this Thanksgiving holiday, since it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to build up your immunity. So, before you share a glass to sample the Thanksgiving wine or shake hands with new acquaintances before eating, it’s worth thinking twice.

But Rigler said getting the shot now is still valuable, because it will start building your immunity right away, and it’s a good idea to get protected for the rest of the season ahead. ADHS data shows 5 to 20 percent of Arizonans get the flu each year, and an average of 700 people in the state die from the virus annually.

There are online tools to help residents find out how to get vaccinated. ADHS has flu information available on its website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a free FluFinder tool that shows which clinics are administering the vaccine in your area.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.