“Getting a flu shot improves our chances of avoiding a nasty and sometimes deadly disease,” said Padraic Juarez, MS, REHS, CPM, administrator of the Wakulla County Health Department. “Few things are 100% certain,” Juarez said,” but flu shots have been around a long time and have a good track record. They are our first line of defense.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths associated with flu range from a low of 3,000 people, to a high of 49,000 annually over the past 30 years. So how do we avoid the flu? Prevention is twofold: Get a flu shot and be alert to spreading germs.
“Stopping germs in their tracks is a constant battle, but we can fight them by washing our hands, covering our coughs, and staying home when we’re sick,” said Juarez.
The CDC offers these tips:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Each year’s flu vaccine contains the three strains of influenza most likely to be circulating that year. That’s why it’s so important to get a flu shot every fall. Last year’s shot might not cover the same strains infecting us this year.
“Nowadays, you can get a flu shot on every corner,” Juarez said, “not just from us at the Wakulla County Health Department or from your doctor. Pharmacies can give you a flu shot when you walk in.” It is especially important that the following groups receive a flu vaccine because they are either at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing complications:
Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
People 50 years of age and older
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, asthma, kidney disease, liver disease, neurologic disorder, blood disorder or a weakened immune system
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu including healthcare workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age* (who are too young to be vaccinated)
The cost for the flu vaccine from the WCHD is $25. The vaccine is available at no charge for children up to age 18 who have Medicaid or for uninsured children. Children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Flu vaccinations are available at the WCHD other weekdays by appointment. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please call the WCHD’s Immunization Program Office, at (850) 926-0400.