PONTIAC (WWJ) – If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot this season, experts are strongly suggesting that you do — as soon as possible.

The Oakland County Health Division says flu cases are reaching their highest level in nearly a decade. As of Jan. 18, Oakland County has had more than 1,705 confirmed flu cases since Oct. 1, 2017.

“I strongly urge everyone who is able to get a flu shot to protect themselves and those around them,” health officer Leigh-Anne Stafford said in a statement. “Getting an annual flu shot decreases the risk of getting the flu. It also helps decrease severity of the illness, complications, and protects the entire community, especially those who are unable to get a flu shot.”

Everyone over the age of six months is recommended to receive an influenza vaccination and take preventive actions, such as washing your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

This year’s vaccine protects against Type A H1N1, H3N2, and two Type B strains which are most likely to occur this season.

The flu virus can spread to others as far as six feet away, mainly by droplets made when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Less often, a person may also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, nose, or mouth.

The flu usually occurs suddenly and can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes lead to death. Symptoms of the flu include: fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu shots ($25) are available at Health Division offices in Pontiac and Southfield on Mondays, Noon – 8 p.m. and Tuesdays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Flu shots may also be available through your physician and at select pharmacies. A high-dose flu shot recommended for those 65 years and older is $47 and is covered by Medicare.

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