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The Scoop

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Get a flu vaccine, not the flu for Christmas

Statement issued Wednesday:

With winter respiratory viruses circulating and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to consider getting a flu vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health offers flu vaccine for children, teens and adults at its Immunization Clinic. Both the injection and nasal spray variety is available. Parents do need to make an appointment to have themselves or a child vaccinated.

“This is National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 4-10, 2011) which serves as an important reminder that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine,” says Allen County Health Commissioner Deborah McMahan, MD. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against flu.“There is plenty of vaccine this year and there are more choices than ever, both in terms of where to get vaccinated and what vaccine to get.”

The Department of Health has the traditional flu shot for children and teens ages six months through 18 years. Along with the thimerosal-free injectable vaccine, the Department of Health also has an intranasal spray for healthy children ages 2 through 18. The nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for children younger than 2 or children with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma.

The Immunization Clinic is at the department’s Medical Annex, 4813 New Haven Ave. The clinic’s hours are Tuesdays, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Call (260) 449-7504.

Children under age 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian (with appropriate consent). Parents should also bring the child’s shot record. There is an administration fee of $9 per vaccine.

Adults can also get a flu vaccine for $19. A special high-dose flu shot for seniors age 65 years or older is available for $34. Adults in need of a flu vaccine can also check with their physician or visit their neighborhood pharmacy or RediMed urgent care clinic.

For more information on preventing the flu, visit www.fighttheflu.org.

Flu prevention measures

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Use alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water is not available.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, rather than your hands, if a tissue is not available.

• Stay home from work or school and limit contact with others if you are ill. Try to avoid other people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

Get health alerts by email and text message – register at www.nixle.com

Flu Vaccine Fact Sheet

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Anyone can become infected, but the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and people with chronic health conditions are more likely to become seriously ill or die from the flu or its complications.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

Yearly vaccination is needed because:

• Flu viruses are always changing and the vaccine composition may change from one season to the next.

• Immune protection from vaccination declines over time so annual vaccination is recommended for optimal protection.

• This season’s vaccine appears to be well matched to the flu strains circulating in the United States, so this season’s vaccine is expected to provide good protection against most influenza illness.

• It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully kick in.

• Flu activity usually peaks in January or February in the United States and can last as late as May. As long as flu season is not over, it is not too late to get vaccinated.

The 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against an influenza A (H3N2) virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 and caused a pandemic.

Send items for The Scoop to jgnews@jg.net.

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