By Ryan Lengerich
This time of year is all about the lesser of two evils — a doctor’s needle in the arm, or two weeks sick in bed.
The temperature drop marks the onslaught of the flu season. Though a Bernalillo County man has been the only New Mexican diagnosed with the virus this year, more will undoubtedly contract the virus. However, the virus can potentially be prevented with a simple shot.
“It is very important that we get the flu vaccination,” said Dee Reed, a nurse at Quay County Public Health. “Now is the ideal time to get vaccination for the flu.”
According to the national Center for Disease Control and Prevention, flu symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, nasal congestion and sore throat.
The peak of flu season typically sets in around December and January, Reed said, but she added that flu officials suspect it could be earlier than normal this year.
According to the CDC, the virus is most often spread through the air. It can also be spread by a person touching a surface containing the virus. Enclosed spaces which are more likely in the winter, aids the spread of the virus.
“I think the temperature does make a difference in the sense that when the weather gets cold we close our doors and windows,” Reed said.
Each year an average 36,000 people die each year and 114,000 have to be admitted to the hospital as a result of the flu, according to the CDC.
While there is no sure-fire way to prevent contracting the virus, Reed said getting a flu shot is a necessary first step. She said a shot can be as much as 90 percent effective in preventing illness in a younger healthy person and 30-40 percent effective for the elderly. Each persons immune system changes the shot’s efficiency.
Reed said the number of young children getting immunized at Public Health has been up, but children between 6 and 35 months are not up to standard.
Other than getting a flu shot, Reed said hand washing is the best way to prevent catching the virus. Rest and fluids, she said, is the best way to fight off the flu.