RIVERSIDE -

The Centers for Disease Control reports the flu season has been especially hard on younger people this season. But the good news; vaccination is lowering the risk of hospitalization by about 60% for people of all ages.

This influenza season was particularly hard on younger- and middle-age adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

People age 18-64 represented 61% of all hospitalizations from influenza-up from the previous three seasons when this age group represented only about 35% of all such hospitalizations.

Influenza deaths followed the same pattern; more deaths than usual occurred in this younger age group.

A second report in this week's MMWR showed that influenza vaccination offered substantial protection against the flu this season, reducing a vaccinated person's risk of having to go to the doctor for flu illness by about 60 percent across all ages.

"Flu hospitalizations and deaths in people younger- and middle-aged adults is a sad and difficult reminder that flu can be serious for anyone, not just the very young and old; and that everyone should be vaccinated," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "The good news is that this season's vaccine is doing its job, protecting people across all age groups."

Tips to avoid the flu:

  • Get a shot. It's best to be proactive, not reactive, when fighting the flu, say experts, so getting a flu shot is the first step in doing battle -- and the sooner the better. "The flu shot doesn't work right away," says Nathan Limb, pharmacy supervisor for Walgreens in Chicago's central district. "It takes about two weeks to boost the immune system once you've received it.
  • Wash your hands. Soap and water are your best friends during this season. Washing your hands, both front and back, for 15-seconds plus (the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" three times, or the ABCs will do it) is key. This is especially important when working in common areas such as copy rooms or front offices.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. It's important to stay hydrated, and while certain juices have been shown to prevent fewer cold symptoms, drinking water every day, all day, is a better option, say experts. Without water, no living thing can survive, which means it is crucial to maintaining optimal health. While water has a myriad of health benefits, research has shown that not all waters are created equal, and that some waters have more health benefits than others. This, say experts, is why drinking alkaline ionized water should be an essential part of anyone's health plan. Doctors recommend the mild alkalinity because it allows for more effective hydration, which supports an optimal pH-balanced body and is a powerful source of antioxidants, which boost the immune system, while also enhancing energy levels and overall health.
  • Keep your distance. If you do get sick, it's important to stay home so you can get better quickly and not spread germs to others. The rule of thumb is to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone without use of medicine that lowers the fever. This will ensure you are past the point where you are likely to spread the virus to others.