Now is a good time to start practicing safe sneezing. That's right, trap those evil germs in a hanky and scrub your hands to the trusty ABCs, because the flu is having a heyday right now.
According to numbers from the Oregon Health Authority, first reported by KPTV, there have been 3,600 confirmed flu cases since October 1. And, in just one week at the end of December, 123 people were hospitalized with the flu.
Dr. Jon Hill, a practitioner at Legacy Emanuel in Portland, told KPTV that this year's flu-stricken toll is shaping up to be on par with the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
"The intensive care units have been full at all the Legacy hospitals," Dr. Hill says.
Part of the reason Legacy Emanuel has been seeing such high numbers of flu cases is in part because it's home to an ECMO Team. The team travels around the state with an ECMO machine, which is used to stabilize fragile flu patients so that they can be transported to Portland for treatment.
While there is still time to get a flu shot, doctors warn that it takes about six weeks for it to really be effective.
And even if you do choose to vaccinate, the shot may do little to protect you from contracting the virus.
"It's just one of those years where the CDC is seeing that this strain of flu is only somewhat covered by the vaccine," Jennifer Radtke, manager for infection prevention at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, told USA Today. "They're seeing that it's anywhere from 10 to 33 percent effective, so anytime there's a mismatch between the vaccine and the circulating strain of the flu, you're going to see more cases."
So flu shot or no, it's a good idea to start boosting your immune system. Wash your hands, drink ginger tea, stock up on Emergen-C and keep a phone-a-friend on hand for last minute soup delivery.