It's time to get your flu vaccine again. While Jack Frost may squelch the problems of one health threat, the West Nile carrying mosquito, he opens the door for another to enter. So now we must prepare for an invasion of the scourge of the microbe world, influenza.
The best time to get a flu shot is in October or November. The flu season usually peaks in January and March, however, so getting the shot in December, or even later, can be beneficial in most years.
Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that spreads from infected persons to the nose or throat of others. Common symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills and muscle aches.
It may be difficult to distinguish the flu from a cold. But the flu can cause more serious illness than a common cold. Each year about 114,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized and an average of 36,000 die because of the flu.
Influenza viruses change often so the vaccine is updated every year. Protection develops about two weeks after getting the shot and may last up to 12 months.
Flu shots are encouraged for most people 6 months of age and older. They are recommended for those 50-years-old or more, residents of long-term facilities, people with long-term health problems or with a weakened immune system, people six months to 18 on long-term aspirin treatment, pregnant women past the 3rd month of pregnancy and health care providers or anyone else coming in close contact with people at risk of serious influenza.
A flu shot is not for everybody, however. You may not be a candidate if you are allergic to eggs, are currently sick with a fever, have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past or have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome
For people who might benefit from the vaccine but don't get one because they are afraid of shots, a nasal-spray flu vaccine (FluMist) is now available. Its been approved for healthy people aged five to 49 years.
This vaccine may cause nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and cough. The nasal-spray is considerable more expensive than an injectable dose.
Flu shots are usually available at most doctors' offices. The vaccines may be obtained at various clinics throughout the community.
This year the Clay County Health Department will not be offering the vaccine. Poor utilization of the service by the public has caused the department to loose money the past few years. The department thought, that with so many other sources available for flu shots, their money could be better used to serve Clay County residents.
A phone survey of local physicians was done to determine what offices had the flu vaccine available in Clay County.
-Brazil Family Medicine, Doctors Harvey, Breitweiser and Johnson. Vaccinations now available for their patients only. Special clinic for high-risk patients on Oct. 22, and for non-high-risk patients on Nov. 5. Limited supply of nasal spray (FluMist) for qualifying patients.
-Clay City Center for Family Medicine, Dr. Daluga. Will offer shots in mid October. No nasal spray.
-Heart Center of Brazil, Dr. Oehler. Shots now available. No nasal spray.
-Community Medical Clinic, Dr. French. Shots available on specified days: Wednesdays 7:30-8:30 a.m. Thursdays 7:30-9 a.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m. Call the day before. No nasal spray.
-Dr. Farid. Available as soon as vaccine arrives. For his patients only. No nasal spray.
-Indiana Medical Specialists, Doctors Mendoza and Paje. Will start after Oct. 13. No nasal spray.
-Medfirst Clinic, Dr. Konijeti. Shots now available. No nasal spray.
Cost for the shots ranged from $17-$27. Nasal spray is higher. Most offices accept Medicare coverage. Some insurance policies cover flu vaccines.
Anyone with questions about the flu vaccine and taking the shot should consult their physician.