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March could see peak in flu season

The worst part of flu season could be right around the corner.

Mary Mayer, infection control director at the Perham Memorial Hospital and Home, said that now until the end of March is when the PMHH typically sees the most flu cases.

"It hasn't been a terribly bad flu season yet," she said. "Usually we see it getting worse in March."

To prepare, Mayer recommends that people start practicing safe habits to keep themselves healthy.

"The number one thing people can do is to cover your cough and wash your hands," Mayer said. "Stay home if you're sick. And using ibuprofen is the best for fever."

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, those most at risk to the flu are people age 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and people with health conditions. Symptoms of the flu include fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose and body aches.

Mayer also said that it's not too late to get a flu shot if people haven't already. The vaccines are still being offered at the hospital through the end of March, she said. This year's flu vaccine includes the H1N1 strain.

Mayer said that a common misperception of the flu vaccine is that people can get sick from it. This is not true, she said.

"The flu shot takes about two weeks to take effect," Mayer said. "Sometimes, when people get sick after getting the shot, they blame the vaccine, but really it was because they were exposed to the flu before the shot took effect."

Those who received the shot in September or October should still be protected, Mayer said.

But for those who haven't, "it's never too late to get the shot," she said, especially with the peak in flu season coming soon.

According to the Center for Disease Control, other measures that should be taken to stay health during flu season include:

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.