Health officials recommend flu shots for everyone six months and older
Vancouver, Wash. — With flu season likely to ramp up at any time, health officials are recommending flu shots for everyone 6 months and older. Flu shots are the best method to prevent flu, hospitalization, missed days of school or work and complications such as pneumonia.
Flu can occur in any month, but primarily from October through May. This contagious respiratory disease kills more people in the U.S. than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that since 2010, flu-related deaths have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000 and hospitalizations have ranged from 140,000 to 710,000 annually.
“Some people delay getting a flu shot in the mistaken belief that vaccine effectiveness will wear off before winter, when flu season typically intensifies,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer. “You are actually better off getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available because flu season starts early some years.
“It can take up to two weeks for protection to kick in, so you don’t want to wait until flu is widely circulating before you get your shot,” he said. “The sooner you’re vaccinated, the sooner you’re protected — and you’ll stay protected throughout the flu season.”
Melnick urged those at greatest risk of complications from flu —’ young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease and long-term health conditions — to get vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely it is that flu will spread through the community. High vaccination rates help protect those most vulnerable to complications.
Flu symptoms can be severe and typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.
The CDC does not recommend vaccination with live, nasal-spray flu vaccine (FluMist) during the current flu season.
Flu vaccine is widely available in Clark County. To get vaccinated, call your healthcare provider or pharmacy. You also can find a place to get vaccinated at https://vaccinefinder.org/.
If you don’t have health insurance, call Sea Mar Community Health Centers at (360) 852-9070 to make an appointment for a low-cost flu shot.
In addition to flu shots, these everyday practices can reduce the chance of catching or spreading disease:
- Cough or sneeze into your arm or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. Throw away the tissue and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home and limit contact with others.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
For more information, see www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm.
Information provided by Clark County Communications.