Flu season

Significantly more cases of the flu have been reported so far this season and the Center for Disease Control and state Department of Public Health are encouraging residents to take precautions.

While it’s late in the season, The CDC is encouraging all people over the age of 6 months old to be vaccinated for the flu.

Each year, millions of Americans safely receive seasonal flu vaccines. The benefits of immunization outweigh the risks, according to the CDC.

The CDC warns that not getting vaccinated could result in disease or putting others, such as babies or people with cancer, at serious risk for illness. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself, and others, from the flu. Individuals can continue to be vaccinated throughout the course of the flu season. This year’s flu vaccine includes three different strains of the flu virus, including the 2009 H1N1 virus. To find a place near you to get a shot, visit flushot.healthmap.org.

Whether you get the flu vaccine or not, there are ways you can avoid the flu this year and stay healthy, according to the state Department of Public Health:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.

• Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

• Wash your hands often, especially before eating or after touching common surfaces like door knobs or hand rails.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

• Seek care early. See your health care provider immediately if you develop flu symptoms; antiviral medications can help if taken early in the illness.