ORANGE COUNTY – As the weather gets colder, lots of people will start coming down with colds, sore throats and possibly the flu.

Ann Zellmen is a clinical nurse with the Orange County Health Department.  She says that so far in North Carolina, influenza activity has remained low and is sporadic throughout the state, but that could change.

“So far, it’s been a mild season,” Zellmen says. “But it’s early.  Most people would guess the flu peaks in November or December.  But historically, the flu peaks in February.”

She says this could be the week the flu starts to spread because so many people will be gathering together.

“One of the things to remember is the flu doesn’t peak because of seasonal variables,” Zellmen says. “The flu peaks because people come indoors and come into close contact with each other.  So, it is important to remember that when you find yourself in that kind of environment, you want to be actively  thinking about measures  you can take to prevent the flu.”

Zellman tells us there are some very simple measures a person can take to prevent getting the flu.

“Hand washing is very important,” Zellmen says. “It’s important to remember that the flu is an airborne disease.  So, if you are coughing and sneezing, you want to make sure you are doing that into your elbow or into a tissue.  And that you are washing your hands afterward.”

She says that if you have not gotten your flu shot, yet you need to do so as quickly as you can…

“Absolutely not too late,” Zellmen says. “It’s really important to continue vaccinating through February and sometimes even later depending on what the flu behavior is like out in the community.  Anyone, who hasn’t had a flu shot yet, should get one as soon as possible.”

And Zellman says young and old alike should get a flu shot.

“Everybody needs a flu shot,” Zellmen says. “That’s the C-D-C recommendation.  Everybody over 6 months of age should get a flu shot.”