The Barton County Health Department will begin doing seasonal flu shots daily starting on Monday, Sept. 19, during regular clinic hours for anyone age 6 months and older. No appointment is necessary. Persons under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian, no physician’s order needed. Pregnant women may receive the traditional inactivated influenza vaccine. Cost for influenza vaccine shots will be $24 or Medicare/Medicaid Card or Insurance assignment. Intradermal flu shots will also be available at the health department for people 18 to 64 years of age at $24.
The high-dose influenza vaccine shot is an alternative that is available for anyone age 65 and older who is eligible to receive a regular seasonal flu vaccine. Cost of the vaccine will be $45 or Medicare card/insurance assignment at the health department. The vaccine is made exactly the same as the regular dose vaccine, but it has four times the amount of antigen that causes a person to produce antibodies against influenza. As a person ages, their immune response is usually weaker than a younger person’s response. Because of this lower immune response to regular seasonal flu vaccine, a physician may recommend the high-dose vaccine for people 65 and older. No physician’s order will be needed to receive the high-dose vaccine.
In addition to Influenza vaccine shots, the health department will also have FluMist nasal vaccine available for persons age 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant and who do not have certain health conditions. This is a Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) that contains live but weakened influenza virus. It is sprayed into the nose and it does not contain thimerosal or other preservatives. People with health problems such as heart disease, asthma/wheezing, lung diseases, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, anemia, or blood disorders, women who are pregnant and anyone with a weakened immune system should have the traditional inactivated influenza vaccine shot. Cost of the FluMist vaccine will be $30 at the health department.
There should be no shortage of vaccine in the 2011-2012 season and influenza cases typically occur from November through March in Kansas. Our goal is to have our county immunized by Nov. 15 so that everyone is protected before the holidays begin.
The 2011-2012 vaccine provides protection against A/H1N1 (pandemic) influenza and two other influenza viruses – influenza A/H3N2 and influenza B. It will not prevent illness caused by other viruses.
It takes up to two weeks for protection to develop after the shot. Protection lasts about a year. Some inactivated influenza vaccine contains a preservative called thimerosal. Thimerosal-free influenza vaccine is available. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
CDC’s recommendation on flu vaccine states that anyone age 6 months or older should receive a flu vaccine. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of having serious flu-related complications, or people who live with or care for higher risk individuals which include anyone with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, etc., people in nursing homes, household contacts of people with higher risks, health care workers, and child care providers.
Influenza and complications, particularly pneumonia, are a leading cause of death in Kansas and in Barton County. During the past few years all area health departments and health care providers have been working to increase flu immunization rates and therefore decrease the number of deaths due to influenza. The Centers for Disease Control is particularly recommending that all children be vaccinated because they are significant transmitters of the disease. Children must complete an initial two-dose series of vaccine to have effective prevention. The more people who are vaccinated in an area, the greater the protection for the entire population against a particular disease (known as herd immunity).
Influenza is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus spread from infected persons. Because the virus mutates, the vaccine is updated every year to include the newest strains that researchers believe will occur in our country. For many children and adults influenza is an illness that causes fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headaches, and muscle aches. But for those at higher risk, the elderly, long term care residents, anyone with long-term health disorders or compromised immunities, infants from 6 months to 23 months of age, and women who will be pregnant during flu season, the illness can be much more severe, leading to hospitalization, complications, and even death.
Flu viruses spread from person to person mainly when infected individuals cough or sneeze. Sometimes people might become infected by touching an object with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. That means you might be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov)
Influenza vaccine can be given at the same time as the pneumonia vaccine. This vaccine protects against 23 of the most deadly strains of pneumonia that account for more than 40,000 American deaths every year. It is considered to be a once in a lifetime immunization for many people and is recommended for all people aged 65 and older, anyone over age 2 with a long-term health problem such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, liver disease, etc.; anyone over age 2 who has a disease or condition, or is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection (cancers and treatments such as lymphoma, leukemia, chemotherapy, and radiation) or anyone who has had organ transplants.
Compared to the cost of medications and care, prevention is truly a bargain. Take advantage of flu and pneumonia vaccines and protect yourself and your family.
For more information on influenza or pneumonia, please contact the Barton County Health Department at 1300 Kansas Avenue, Great Bend, KS, or at (620) 793-1902, or visit our website at www.bartoncounty.org/Health.