The Pike County Health Department is urging residents to protect themselves, co-workers, family and friends by being proactive and getting vaccinated this flu season.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. CDC now recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive an annual influenza “flu” vaccination.
The Pike County Health Department is now offering the vaccinations during Walk-in hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as young children, older people, pregnant women and people with certain long-term health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. This is why yearly flu vaccination should begin in September, or as soon as vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season which can last as late as May. This is because the timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While flu season can begin early as October, most of the time seasonal flu activity peaks in January, February or later.
There are two types of flu vaccines that the Health Department will offer this year. The “flu shot” – an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus that is given with a needed).
The seasonal flu shot is approved for use in people six months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. The other type is the “nasal-spray” flu mist – a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people two to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
There are other proactive things you can do along with the getting the flu vaccination to help protect you and your family from the flu:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after using it. If you do not have a tissue, cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow, not your bare hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, it is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
For more information on the influenza disease, recommendations, vaccinations, or flu clinics call Rhonda Stumbaugh, RN; Community Health Coordinator @ 573-324-2111 or go to our website @ pikecountyhealth.org.