STUDENTS HAVE been in school for only a few weeks, yet most of us probably already know someone - or even are someone - who has caught a nagging cold that has been going around.
The opening of the school year is notorious for serving as a catalyst for the spread of contagious seasonal colds and flu. Temperatures begin to drop and children gather together in the classrooms, creating the perfect environment for these pesky germs to spread.
Influenza usually claims around 36,000 lives each year in the United States, with a vast majority of its victims being age 65 and older. While the elderly are the most susceptible to the flu's potentially fatal punch, children have been pegged as its primary spreaders.
Children, too, can die from the regular flu, and each year, between 80 and 100 kids are claimed by the disease.
Vaccinations for the regular seasonal flu are available now, and health officials are urging citizens to go ahead and get their flu shots. The recommendation is particularly aimed at those who are most vulnerable to the flu's dangers. Those who should always get a flu shot include senior citizens, children, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic health problems like asthma or heart disease, health care workers and caregivers of those in the high-risk category.
Though influenza can hit at any time, most occurs between the months of October and May. In recent seasons, most infections have happened in January and February.
The Belmont County Health Department recently began administering the flu vaccine to county residents. Those interested in scheduling a vaccine should contact the department at 740 695-1202 ext 19.
County residents can gain additional information regarding specific flu symptoms by visiting the board's updated website are www.belmontcountyhealth.org.
For those who know that prevention is the best defense, plan to get a flu shot this season.