First flu case of season confirmed in Maricopa County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

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First flu case of season confirmed in Maricopa County

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

As sure as the return of winter visitors to Arizona is the annual fall arrival of flu season, which marked its official 2013 entrance with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health confirming the first flu case of the season.

"Now the obvious questions, 'How bad will this season be? Will the vaccine be protective against the strain of flu circulating?' and the all-important, 'Should I get my flu shot?'" said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. "We just don't know yet which strain will dominate this season or how bad it will be. But we do know that the best way to protect ourselves and those around us is to get our flu vaccine."

People use all kinds of excuses to avoid a flu shot, but Dr. Donald Bucklin, regional medical director for U.S. Healthworks in Phoenix, debunked those myths.

The top five reasons, according to U.S. Healthworks, are:

  • I'm healthy, I never get the flu. (Everyone is susceptible to the flu, Bucklin said.)
  • A flu shot can give me the flu. (This your basic urban myth. It cannot give you the flu, Bucklin said.)
  • Getting the flu is no big deal. (Fevers can reach 104 degrees, and there are deaths from the flu every year, Bucklin said.)
  • The vaccine probably isn't covered by my insurance. (Under the Affordable Care Act, many health plans cover the influenza vaccine and other preventive services without charging a co-pay, given that the service is provided by an in-network provider, Bucklin said.)
  • I'll get the flu shot - later. ("Later" usually means never. People need to get vaccinated before they're exposed to influenza for the vaccine to work, because it takes 10 to 14 days to be effective, Bucklin said.)

The state's first case, also confirmed by the Arizona Department of Health Services, was an unvaccinated child with influenza type B who was never hospitalized, according to a county health department news release on Monday.

Last year, Arizona had more than 11,000 lab-confirmed flu cases and four children died from influenza. Maricopa County alone reported more than 5,600 lab-confirmed cases, but there were no child deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine.

This year a newly-available vaccine will protect against four flu viruses; two A strains (an H3N2 and H1N1 strain) and two B strains. Most available vaccines will only protect against three strains (only one B strain).

People with the flu can take precautions to not infect anyone else, according to the county and state health departments:

  • Get the flu vaccine
  • Be vigilant about good hygiene
  • Cover a cough in a sleeve
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Stay home when sick

For more information about the flu and its symptoms or where to find a flu vaccine in Arizona, please visit StopTheSpreadAZ.org

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