Health Department offers flu, pneumonia vaccine clinics

From press release

Fifty-nine community flu and pneumonia clinics have been scheduled by the Winnebago County Health Department
and will be made available through the flu season.

The flu vaccine provided by the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) is thimerosal-free (mercury-free). Getting the vaccine as soon as it is available will provide protection if the flu season comes early.

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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Winnebago County Health Department recommend the single best way to prevent the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine. The Winnebago Health Department recommends everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu as soon as the 2010-2011 vaccine is available.

Last year, two separate vaccines were recommended: a 2009 H1N1 vaccination and a seasonal influenza vaccination. This flu season, only one influenza vaccination is necessary. However, children younger than 9 years old who are being vaccinated for the first time need a second dose four or more weeks later to be protected.

By getting vaccinated, you can protect yourself from influenza and may also avoid spreading influenza to others.

Individuals who meet the following criteria or who have the following conditions are highly encouraged to get an annual flu shot: young children; pregnant women; individuals who care for children younger than 6 months of age; people with chronic health conditions such as heart, lung or diabetes, or a weakened immune system; health care workers; and people 65 years of age and older.

Influenza is a contagious disease. It is caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. Anyone can get influenza, but rates of infection are highest among children. For most people, symptoms last only a few days. The symptoms include fever, sore throat, chills, fatigue, cough, headache and muscle aches.

The 2010-2011 flu vaccine strains include the following: A/California/7/2008 (H1N1)-like virus; A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus; and the B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. This year’s flu and pneumonia vaccine is safe, is made the same way as past flu vaccines and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Pneumonia shots protect individuals from 23 strains of bacterial pneumonia.

The following individuals are strongly encouraged to get the pneumonia vaccine: people who are 65 years of age or older; people 2 years of age and older who have a chronic illness such as cardiovascular or lung disease, sickle-cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, chronic liver disease, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak or a cochlear implant; people 2 years of age or older with a weakened immune system as a result of illnesses such as HIV infection, AIDS, chronic renal failure, nephritic syndrome, organ or bone marrow transplantation, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and generalized malignancy; those receiving immunosuppressive therapy (e.g., steroids); those who have had their spleen removed or whose spleen is dysfunctional as a result of an illness such as sickle-cell disease; residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities; and people 19 through 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes or have asthma.

All individuals receiving a flu/pneumonia shot from the Health Department will receive $15 worth of coupons redeemable on specific blood work and shots provided by the Health Promotion Program at the Health Department. Coupon expires May 31, 2011.

Flu shots are $30; covered by Medicare Part B or a Medicare B supplement; or free to those with an Illinois Public Aid medical card.

Pneumonia shots are $45 or covered by Medicare Part B or a Medicare B supplement.

For more information about the flu and pneumonia shots including scheduled dates and locations, contact the Winnebago County Health Department at (815) 720-4000.

From the Sept. 22-28, 2010 issue

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