California continues to fly low on the flu radar

Juliana D. Norwood | 1/16/2013, 5 p.m.

The best way to avoid getting the flu is washing hands frequently, Robinson said. "Influenza gets through by touching your mouth, eyes and nose. Sick people should self-isolate. Stay home if you're sick," Robinson said.

Ellen Driscoll, director of public relations at Antelope Valley Hospital, said the hospital is experiencing relatively normal levels of influenza patients. "This is peak season for us anyway, so I can't say that there are more cases than there were last year. We are pretty much in line with what is normal," said Driscoll. "We haven't had any hospitalizations or deaths, and we do have flu vaccines available, but there also hasn't been an unusually high amount of patients seeking those either. Our experience has been pretty standard."

Rekha Murthy, director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai, said: "We are having a notably early flu season, and while we don't know yet how bad it will get, the time is now to get your flu vaccine."
Murthy says Cedars-Sinai physicians started seeing an increase in flu patients about two weeks ago, but they are seeing typical influenza strains A and B that are matched to this year's vaccine. Murthy says Cedars-Sinai also is being proactive in the battle by giving flu shots to all in-patients who have not yet received the vaccine.

According to the CDC, the highest priority groups for vaccination are children under 5, especially those under 2; pregnant women; people ages 65 or older; people who are morbidly obese; children and adolescents receiving long-term aspirin therapy; people with chronic diseases such as heart or lung disease, diabetes or asthma; those with weakened immune systems; and healthcare workers.

Information on obtaining a flu shot is available online at http://findaflushot.com or http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip/flu/FluLocatorMain.htm

CNN and City News Service contributed to this article.