Take Action to Prevent the Flu

  • Published
  • By Maj Miesha R. Sheffey
  • 9th Medical Group

Influenza (flu) season in the United States typically occurs during the fall and winter months. Although the highest incidences are commonly observed from December to March, flu cases can still occur as late as May. The severity of the flu season can also vary from year to year, with different levels of impact ranging from mild infections to hospitalizations and even death. Preliminary in-season estimates of flu burden in the United States for the 2022-2023 season resulted in at least 31 million symptomatic illnesses, 14 million medical visits, 360,000 hospitalizations and 21,000 deaths. In California alone, there were 17,745 flu-related hospitalizations and 707 deaths recorded during the 2022-2023 flu season.

 Commonly referred to as the flu, influenza is a respiratory illness that is highly contagious and can cause mild to severe illness. People who have the flu often feel some or all the following symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body or muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. Additional symptoms may include vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than in adults. Most people who contract the flu will recover in several days, but the recovery period can last up to two weeks. High risk populations that can experience severe complications associated with the flu include children under the age of 5, adults over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people.  

The flu is commonly spread from person to person through droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. When these droplets land in the mouth or nose of another person within 6 feet of the infected person, or if inhaled into their lungs, they can contract the flu. Transmission can also occur by touching contaminated surfaces or inanimate objects that have the flu virus on it, and then touching one’s mouth or nose. To prevent the spread of the flu, it is important to avoid close contact with sick people, and those infected with the flu should stay home. Frequent hand washing with soap and hot water is critical to decreasing transmission rates. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Additional precautions include avoidance of sharing linens, eating utensils, and dishes with sick individuals. Furthermore, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly if someone is ill, especially in home, workplace and school environments.

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends yearly flu vaccination to anyone who is 6 months of age or older. The seasonal flu shot is designed to protect against the three or four flu strains; these strains are predicted by research to be the most common during the upcoming season. The CDC recommends use of injectable flu vaccines during the 2023-2024 season. It is important to note that the flu vaccine does not provide complete protection against all strains of the flu, but it can still significantly reduce the risk of getting sick and spreading the virus to others.

The 9th Medical Group offers flu vaccinations for all Active Duty military personnel, their dependents, and other authorized beneficiaries. There is several TRICARE approved off-base locations available for military personnel, family members and retirees to receive the flu vaccination. A Military ID Card or Proof of Insurance Card will need to be provided to receive the flu vaccination. If you choose to receive your vaccination off-base, it is important to bring a copy of your flu vaccination record to the Immunization Clinic to update your military vaccination records.

For questions or concerns regarding the flu season, contact our Public Health Office at 530-634-4945. For information of receiving the flu vaccine, contact the Immunizations Clinic at 530-634-4740. To schedule an appointment for any health-related questions or concerns, call the appointment line at 530-634-2941.