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As influenza spreads, residents with flu-like illness are asked to contact their health care provider before visiting a hospital emergency department. Contacting your health care provider first will reduce hospital overcrowding, help prevent the spread of flu to others, and ensure emergency departments are available to address other serious medical conditions.
"Most people who have the flu will be uncomfortable but do not need to go to an emergency department," said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer and Public Health director.
People should avoid going to emergency departments unless they experience the following conditions:
Adults and children:
- Confusion or can't be woken up
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
- Blue lips or skin rash
- Unable to drink or keep liquids down
- Fever in an infant younger than 3 months
- Excessive irritability
The best way to prevent flu is to get a flu shot. People who have not yet received a flu shot are encouraged to get one as soon as possible. The flu season can last several months, and the vaccine can take up to two weeks to be effective.
Other ways to avoid catching and spreading flu include frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.
Vaccine is widely available in Clark County. To get vaccinated, call your health care provider or pharmacy. If you don't have health insurance, call Sea Mar Community Health Centers at 360.852.9070 or the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington at 360.313.1390 to make an appointment for a low-cost flu shot.