Health officials discuss flu prevention as nation faces flu epidemic

Health officials say prevention is key

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - As the flu sweeps the country, California is one of three states remaining epidemic free for now.

"We have not seen that level of activity here in California or Kern County but we know any infectious disease is only an airline flight away from someone coming from an area that is having a lot of problems and bringing that infection to our own community," said Public Health Department Dr. Claudia Jonah.

Which is why health officials are urging people to get the flu shot.

Officials at the Public Health Department say they've seen an increase in people coming in to get the flu shot.

That's what brought Samantha Babb and her kids into the public health clinic Thursday.

"We have a regular pediatrician but they were out of the flu shot for [my son's] age," said Babb.

Although there have been flu shot shortages in the past, the state is not experiencing one now.

But there is a reported shortage of Tamiflu which is taken within the first two days of getting sick.

"It's an antiviral medication that can decrease the severity and length of illness with influenza," said Jonah.

Pharmacists at Silver Spray pharmacy say they have plenty of Tamiflu, but prescription and over the counter medications are flying off the shelves fast.

"We have seen a lot of prescriptions for antibiotics, a lot of people coming in for antihistamines," said Pharmacy technician Luis Salazar.

Dr. Jonah said the best way to prevent illness is to remember the Three C's--cover your cough, clean your hands and confine sick people at home.

And get your flu shot, which takes two weeks to build up immunity to the flu.

"You don't want to wait another week or two weeks. The flu could be here any day," said Jonah.

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