Officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services started their statewide flu surveillance for this season.
Officials say DHHS uses multiple surveillance systems to track flu viruses, including physicians who report the number of people with flu-like illness weekly, lab tests, school surveillance, hospital data, emergency department data and death reporting.
"There's only one-way flu activity can go at this point and that's up," said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS.
"Flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu and I encourage Nebraskans to get a flu shot as soon as possible."
Vaccination plays a critical role in the fight against the flu.
It can reduce flu-related illnesses, visits to the doctor, missed work and school and flu-related hospitalizations.
While flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and it’s especially important they receive vaccine:
• Young children
• Adults 65 years of age or older
• Pregnant women
• People with chronic lung disease (like asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions
• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
In addition to vaccination, there are other things people can do to protect themselves from the flu:
• Wash hands
• Cover your cough
• Stay home if you’re sick
• Avoid sick people
• Eat healthy and get plenty of rest
• Don’t smoke