The flu bug has made its presence felt here in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
On Sunday, Valley Health officials took precautions to protect its patients by limiting visiting hours and restricting the number of visitors at any one time at Winchester Medical Center, Warren Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, Page Memorial Hospital, Hampshire (W.Va.) Memorial Hospital and War Memorial Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va. Visitors also must be 18 or older.
Area pharmacies and doctors offices still carry the flu vaccine, and local health providers are urging residents to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the vaccine is "so far reducing the risk of having to go to the doctor for influenza by about 60 percent for vaccinated people."
Dr. Charles Devine, Lord Fairfax Health District director, noted in a Daily story last week that getting vaccinated is part of being a good citizen by contributing to "herd immunity."
"Any vaccine-preventable disease, the more people you can have vaccinated...the less easily the disease is spread through the community," he said. "So, a high level of herd immunity is a good thing."
The flu is contagious and can be deadly. Protect yourself and others by doing what you can to help prevent spreading it.
Here are the CDC's recommendations in fighting the viral infection:
1. Get a flu vaccine.
2. Take precautions to avoid spreading it - stay home if you are feeling ill, wash and sanitize your hands often, avoid close contact with those who are sick, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
3. Take doctor-prescribed flu antiviral drugs.