Flu season update

By: Rachael Witter

Have you gotten your annual flu shot? If you haven't, now might be a good time to, in more ways than one.

Usually when we think of winter, we automatically associate it with flu season. So far, so good, but along with the changing weather, we could see changes in the number of people coming down with the flu.

THe Lancaster County Health Department says it's seen a relatively quiet flu season, but that may change over the next few weeks. “So far in Lancaster county, we've seen very little flu activity around us. I would suspect that in the next several weeks, we'll start to see increased activity locally  here as well,” said Tim Timmons, Lancaster Co. Health Department.

In terms of the flu, it's been pretty quiet locally, but there have been several other illnesses affecting people. “Certainly some respiratory sickness this time of year, colds and stuff. Also gastrointestinal individuals with sudden onset of vomiting or diarrhea,” said Timmons.

These are mainly illnesses where symptoms will last two or three days, but Timmons says the flu, which can be pretty severe for up to seven days, may start to affect the area in the next few weeks. The main difference between a common cold and the flu is how fast symptoms come on.

“The onset is sudden. A person feels fine and then by the end of the day they're feeling achy or feverish,” Timmons said.

So if you haven't gotten a flu shot yet, now might be the best time. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective. That may be perfect timing with flu activity starting to pick up around us. Don't forget the easiest form of protection, washing your hands. Health officials can't stress that one enough, and also covering your mouth when you sneeze.