Strong medicine: It’s not too late to get tough on the flu

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Get a flu shot.

Just about everyone over six months of age should be inoculated as the best defense against influenza, according to the Allegheny County Health Department. Even though the flu season has been in full bloom since mid-December, it’s not too late because the season often lasts well into April, or beyond. Shots are available at many drug stores, doctors’ offices or the health department in Oakland, where no appointments are necessary from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays except Wednesdays, when hours are 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This year’s virulent H1N1 strain, known as swine flu, has been hitting young adults particularly hard across the country, and in Allegheny County doctors have had to put some patients on heart-lung machines to fight the virus.

Although patients can become gravely ill with the flu, and county health and hospital officials have confirmed several deaths so far, most people can treat the illness by getting rest, drinking plenty of liquids and taking medications to relieve symptoms.

Besides getting a flu shot, people can best prevent the flu by using basic steps of good hygiene — washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, staying home if you are sick, using a tissue or your upper sleeve when sneezing and coughing, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

When it comes to the flu, we all must join the fight to prevent the virus from spreading.

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