Get vaccinated now for early, long-lasting protection against flu

VANCOUVER − Flu vaccine is widely available in Clark County, and health officials are recommending everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated early.

“Some people delay getting a flu shot in the mistaken belief that vaccine effectiveness will wear off before winter, when flu season typically ramps up,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer. “Actually, you are better off getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available because flu season starts early some years.

“It takes two weeks after you get vaccinated for protection to kick in, so you don’t want to wait until flu is widely circulating before you get your shot. The sooner you’re vaccinated, the sooner you’re protected − and you’ll stay protected throughout the flu season.”

Flu shot vaccinations in Clark County Washington
Pharmacist Kendall Aichele administers a flu shot at the Safeway located at 408 NE 81st Street in Vancouver, one of many locations in Clark County where residents can get their annual vaccination. Photo by Mike Schultz

Flu shots are the best method to prevent flu, hospitalization, missed days of school or work and complications such as pneumonia. Flu symptoms can be severe and typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.

Flu can occur any time, but primarily from October through May. This contagious respiratory disease kills more people in the U.S. than any other vaccine-preventable disease. On average, nearly 24,000 people die each year of flu, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized.

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 ‒ are especially urged to get vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots for everyone 6 months and older, with rare exceptions. The CDC does not recommend vaccination with

live, nasal-spray flu vaccine (FluMist) during the 2016-2017 flu season.

To get vaccinated, call your healthcare provider or pharmacy. Those who don’t have health insurance, can call Sea Mar Community Health Centers at (360) 852-9070 to make an appointment for a low-cost flu shot.

A healthier workforce is a more productive workforce. Businesses wanting to provide onsite flu shots can call:

  • Adventist Health: (503) 408-7040
  • Get a Flu Shot: (877) 358-7468 (Getaflushot.com)
  • Passport Health: (360) 597-4495

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.

 

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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