As flu season nears peak, urgent care specialists offer best ways to avoid getting sick

GRANADA HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Urgent care specialists are urging Southern Californians to brace themselves as we head to into the peak of flu season.

Cough and fatigue has been bugging Irene Vasquez, of Canoga Park, for days. She's worried it might be something worse than a cold.

"I've been having flu-like symptoms for about a week now," she said.

The staff at the AFC Urgent Care Center in Granada Hills said they're seeing an uptick in patients coming in with the flu.

"Over the past two weeks, we've had at least 15 to 20 positive influenza cases. And that's a mix of Influenza A and B," nurse practitioner Vlad Melnichenko said.

He said this year's vaccine appears to be a good match, but nearly everyone here who he's seen test positive for flu failed to get vaccinated.

Vasquez admitted she didn't get one this year, but usually gets one every year.

The flu season can last well into spring so doctors said it's not too late to get a flu shot. Other ways to avoid getting sick include not sharing items such as pens.

Frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of viruses, but it's not always easy when you're out and about.

"For example being at the gas station," Melnichenko said, "We should carry at least a small bottle of hand sanitizer or a wipe, and we should use it after we fill the tank with gas."

Purchasing anything requires touching quite a few surfaces.

If you could sanitize every single keypad that would be great, but it's hard to do. So when in doubt, experts say "knuckle it out!"

"Use our knuckles instead of our fingertips when we are at the ATM machine dialing the PIN code," Melnichenko said.

Vasquez wears a mask to cover her cough, but you can also use the inside of your arm.

"I always encourage my kids to use their elbows if we are in an elevator or at an ATM, use a pen or something," Vasquez said.

Regular sleep and hydration are also important in preventing the flu, not just once you get it.
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