Health Fair free flu shot (copy)

With the recent increase in patients with flu symptoms, Cottage Health hospital staff point out it’s not too late to get a flu shot as protection.

The high number of influenza cases emerging nationwide in recent weeks has resulted in an increase of patients entering hospital emergency rooms. As the flu has spread, wait times in emergency rooms have increased at local hospitals, including Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital.

To help prevent the spread of flu and provide emergency care to those patients who are experiencing extreme illness and life-threatening conditions, Cottage Health hospitals throughout Santa Barbara County are asking people to avoid coming to the emergency department unless they are suffering from serious symptoms or complications.

Young and elderly

Most people with the flu have moderate symptoms and will recover within about a week without medical treatment by resting and drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. However, the risk of life-threatening flu is impacting the very young and the elderly. Pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions are also at risk.

Higher risk patients will receive priority in Cottage Health hospital emergency departments in Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara and Goleta. Hospital staff advises high-risk groups or individuals with concerns to call their primary care doctor or clinic at the first sign of flu symptoms to determine whether they might benefit from antiviral medication to help shorten the duration and severity of the flu. It is important to consult a pediatrician before providing any medication to young children.

Cottage Health hospital staff point out it’s not too late to get a flu shot as protection. Other precautions include washing hands frequently with soap and water; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and avoiding contact with sick people.

People who become sick are advised to stay home from work and school to avoid infecting others. People with flu-like symptoms should not enter the hospital if they are not in need of emergency care.

For more information visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

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