Don’t skip out on flu vaccine this year
If you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, now is the time.
Dec. 2-8 marks National Influenza Vaccination Week and as long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination still provides the best protection against the flu.
Already, 514 flu cases have been reported to the health district during Oct. 1-Nov. 30. That’s compared to the 360 reported during the same time period last year.
“Last flu season was one of the hardest we’ve seen and while it may appear this season is worse, it’s not,” said Eileen Dawley, RN, GCHD chief nursing officer. “Flu season is October-May so that’s when we ask schools and doctors to report cases. We saw several outbreaks last September, which contributed to a busy season. We didn’t receive any reports of outbreaks this September, but activity is expected to increase in coming weeks as the season picks up.”
People 6 months and older should be vaccinated for the flu. Vaccination is especially important for certain high-risk groups including those age 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic health conditions, who are at higher risk for complications or even death if they get the flu.
Vaccination is also important for health care workers and others who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading the flu to them.
“It’s important to know the flu vaccine does not cause flu illness, as some may think,” said Dawley. “The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, meaning they are dead, so they cannot cause an infection.”
The flu vaccine is currently available at the Galveston County Health District (GCHD) Immunization Clinic, 9850-B Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City. The clinic is walk-in and open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with extended hours on Tuesday to 7 p.m. Flu shots are $34 each. Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield, cash, check, debit and credit cards are accepted. For more information, call 409-949-3459.
Remember to stop spread of the flu and other illnesses by covering all coughs and sneezes with elbows, washing hands frequently, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and staying home when sick.
Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people, especially children, may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may also be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
“The flu vaccine can reduce flu illness and flu-related hospitalizations. Flu vaccinations can reduce doctor visits, missed days at work and missed days at school,” Dawley added. “It is important to get your flu vaccine each year. Your immune protection from vaccination drops over time so yearly vaccines help make sure you have the best protection available against the flu.”
Take every day preventive actions to stop the spread of germs:
• Try to avoid close contact with those who are sick.
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• If sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities.
• Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue away after use and wash hands.
• Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.