JUNEAU – The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) would like to remind everyone that now is the time to get vaccinated against the influenza virus.

The influenza virus, commonly referred to as “the flu” is much more severe than an average cold. Each year, an average of more than 200,000, people in the U.S. are hospitalized from the flu, and nearly 3,600 people die as a result.

SEARHC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that individuals six months of age and older receive a flu vaccine. It is especially important if you are at higher risk for developing complications from the flu due to pre-existing medical conditions. Others at greater risk for complications from influenza virus are pregnant women, children younger under five, people 65 and over as well as Alaska Natives and Native Americans.

A flu vaccination does not guarantee protection against the flu. However, it is the first and most important step in protecting against the virus and its potentially serious complications. Getting vaccinated can reduce doctors’ visits, missed work and school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and community-level outbreaks. If you have flu symptoms, it is important to avoid public spaces like work or school and see your healthcare provider quickly.

SEARHC has a supply of the vaccine at each of our clinics. Please contact your local clinic to make an appointment to be vaccinated. To learn more about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu or call 800-CDC-INFO.