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Public health department recommends vaccination now to prevent flu
Flu Shot
Kenzie Woods prepares for a flu shot at the Dawson County Health Department. Woods said it’s important to get a flu shot because it helps to prevent you from getting sick from the ever-changing flu. “I’d rather be prepared than not,” she said. - photo by Christine Miller

The District 2 Public Health Departments have announced that flu shots are available and urge residents to get immunized now against seasonal influenza.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all persons 6 months of age and older who can take the flu shot do so.

“High-dose” influenza vaccine is recommended for individuals aged 65 years and older. As we age, our immune systems become weaker. A higher dose of antigen in the “high-dose” vaccine helps boost the immune response in older people and improves protection against influenza.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to build full immunity against influenza, so now is a good time to get vaccinated. Influenza activity typically lasts from October to May in the United States, but can occur at any time.

Local health departments accept cash, credit and debit cards, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, Peach Care, Amerigroup, WellCare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, Coventry and United Health Care (state health benefit plan). Please bring your insurance card with you. The cost for the flu shot is $25.

Health experts agree that the flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. The next key step is preventing the spread of germs. To help stop the spread of germs wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you are sick. Cleaning and disinfecting common surfaces in your home and work area can also limit the spread of germs.

If you experience flu symptoms – fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue – you can seek advice from your healthcare provider. If you have the flu, your healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral medicine which can make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick.

Persons in certain groups may have a higher risk for complications from influenza. These include: children younger than 5 years of age, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Additionally, persons with chronic illnesses, weakened immune systems, and children and adolescents (aged 6 months – 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy are at higher risk for complications.

People who are unable to receive the flu vaccine can still reduce their chances for getting influenza by following some simple steps.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue.

Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands.

Wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Rinse hands and dry with a disposable towel. Use the towel to turn off the faucet and discard.

Don’t share drink, food, or eating utensils.

Stay home from work or school when you are sick.

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