The Yakima Fire Department is preparing for a possible outbreak in the flu virus after thousands of people across the country have been sickened by the virus. Fire department officials say the number of flu cases is expected to be on the rise in the next few weeks so they say now is a great time to get a flu shot. They are hoping more people in the Yakima Valley get the shot before having to end up at a hospital emergency room.

Influenza is a highly infectious disease of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness and lead to death. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, chills and achiness. Vaccination is the primary method for preventing influenza, and full protection occurs about two weeks after vaccination. Those needing a vaccine should contact their health care providers or find a community flu immunization location. Flu vaccination is especially important for those at high risk of having serious complications and those who live with or care for people at high risk. They include:

  • Children under age five (especially those under two years of age)
  • Adults age 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People who have certain conditions including asthma, neurological and neuro-developmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, diabetes, kidney disorders, liver disorders, metabolic disorders, obesity, a weakened immune system and those under age 19 who receive long-term aspirin therapy

It's also important for individuals living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to get vaccinated. People who care for those at high risk for complications from flu include:

  • Health care workers
  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children under age five, especially those under six months of age who are at high risk but are too young be get vaccinated.