Officials with the Wyoming Department of Health are warning people who haven't gotten their flu shots to get them now as flu activity in the state is picking up.

Reggie McClinton, an epidemiologist with WDH, said Wyoming’s overall flu activity is at a relatively low level currently but reports are showing significant increases in several local areas. “With national reports of flu activity already elevated and increasing, this is not surprising,” he said. “Several states are already reporting widespread activity.”

State epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist says it's important to get the shots now if you haven't already because they take about two weeks to take effect.

“Every season we see serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in Wyoming due to flu,” Harrist said. “Influenza should never be overlooked or accepted as a minor problem.”

“We want nearly everyone six months or older to get a seasonal flu vaccine,” Harrist said. “Flu shots are safe and important. They can help you avoid the flu, they reduce the spread of the virus and they can also help make illnesses less severe for those who do still get sick.”

Besides getting shots, Harrist urged people to take common-sense steps to help stop the spread of influenza. Those include staying home from work when you are sick and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. People are also being warned to wash their hands frequently.

Doctors may recommend prescription antiviral medications to help treat influenza.

These medications may be especially helpful for persons at higher risk for flu complications such as young children, older adults, persons with chronic medical conditions, persons with challenged immune systems, pregnant women, persons less than 19 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy for other conditions, those who are extremely overweight, and residents of nursing homes or other chronic-care facilities.

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