IT'S hard to go anywhere on the Coffs Coast at the moment without hearing a sneeze or cough, but doctors are assuring us it's just a normal start to flu season.
"The Mid North Coast has only had four notifications of influenza so far," Director of North Coast Public Health Paul Corben said.
That's not to say more people haven't come down with the flu.
Mr Corben said not all cases need to be confirmed by GPs via testing, and many people self diagnose.
The push is now on to ensure those at high risk or flu are vaccinated before cases rise.
"We see a peak in flu activity in about July and August," Mr Corben said.
"The vaccination takes about 10 days to two weeks to give you protection."
People in high risk categories can receive the vaccination for free, but Mr Corben said the approximate $20 cost to other patients is a wise investment.
There are no new nasties to worry about this year; Mr Corben said the vaccine for the current flu season is virtually the same as last year.
The vaccination targets Influenza B, and two strains of Influenza A - H3N2 and the pandemic H1N1 virus which claimed two lives on the Mid North Coast in previous years.
The severity of this year's flu season is hard to predict, but Mr Corben said the northern hemisphere had a generally mild season.
"It's hard to tell when it'll be a big season because we don't know why we get big ones or why we don't. Mexico had a bad H1N1 outbreak this year, while Canada had a very mild season; it's not clear what caused that."
As always, prevention is better than cure.
"Good hygiene should be practiced; use tissues and wash hands afterwards or used an alcohol base hand gel," Mr Corben said.
"Certainly stay home from work and keep kids home from school and daycare to stop the cycle of infection. If you're not getting better in a few days or you have breathing difficulties or other concerns, see your doctor."
- What is your tried and true flu remedy? Leave a comment and let us know!
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