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Now is time to get those influenza vaccinations

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Your Health by Cynthia Brown

  Fall is just around the corner and the Bullitt County Health Department would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that a flu vaccine is the single best method to prevent seasonal influenza.There are a number of factors about seasonal influenza that are beyond our control, such as when influenza disease will surface, how severe the season will be, which groups it will hit hardest, and how much vaccine will be available. Getting the flu vaccine is in our control. Here is some information to consider for the 2012-2013 Influenza season. Influenza (““flu””) is a contagious disease. It is caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).“Due to the climate changes recently and mild winter last year, I expect this winter to be rather harsh,” stated Dr. Swannie Jett, Director of the Bullitt County Health Department. “I anticipate an increase in influenza cases, therefore I strongly encourage everyone to take this serious and become vaccinated to prevent illness.” 

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses even though the vaccine composition may still be the same. Everyone needs to get vaccinated with this season’s vaccine because immunity from last season’s vaccine will have declined.

People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who did not receive at least one dose of the 2011-2012 vaccine, or for whom it is not certain whether 2011-2012 vaccine was received, should receive 2 doses of the 2012-2013 seasonal vaccine, administered at least 4 weeks apart. 

The World Health Organization recommended this year’s vaccine include three strain (types) of flu. They are, A/California/7/2009 (H1N1); A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2); B/Wisconsin/1/2010. This combination vaccine covers a person for the more common types of flu seen. Get the vaccine as soon as it is available.

This should provide protection if the flu season comes early. “You can get the flu vaccine now at the health department during regular hours,” states Andrea Renfrow, RN, Nurse Administrator. Recognizing the flu can be hard because other illnesses can have the same symptoms and are often mistaken for the flu. For most people, symptoms last only a few days. 

They include: 

fever/chills 

sore throat 

muscle aches 

fatigue 

cough 

headache 

runny or stuffy nose Young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions – such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system – can get much sicker.Flu can cause high fever and pneumonia, and make existing medical conditions worse. It can cause diarrhea and seizures in children. Each year thousands of people die from influenza and even more require hospitalization. By getting the flu vaccine, you can protect yourself from influenza and may help limit the spreading of influenza to others. Other ways to stop the spread of the flu are:

*Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 15-20 seconds,

*Cough into your sleeve or cuff, not your hands, if tissue is not available,

*Stay home when sick, at least 24 hours after fever is gone,

*Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands,

*Limit time spent with sick people.Influenza can occur at any time, but most influenza occurs from October through May. In recent seasons, most infections have occurred in January and February.So take control of your health. Vaccinate now. Call 955-5355 for more information.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control