Even with unseasonably warm temperatures Daviess County Health Nurse Kathy Sullender urges area residents to be proactive and get a flu shot.
Sullender said that anyone age six months and older can get a flu shot. “The vaccine is available now. I know people aren’t really thinking flu right now and it (the flu) does seem to start later and later each year, but it’s a good time to get prepared.”
While some may doubt the effectiveness of the flu shot or worry about the side effects the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said that certain people should not shy away from the flu vaccination. People at high risk of contracting pneumonia or who have medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, pregnant women, children younger than age 2 and adults over age 65 should all consider the shot necessary. Those who live or work with individuals that may be at risk of developing complications should also be vaccinated.
”It’s really recommended that everyone get a flu shot,” said Sullender. “There are different types of the shot as well as a nasal spray and egg-free vaccines are also available to those with allergies to eggs.”
Many times Sullender said that many health care providers will ask what type of reaction those allergic to eggs have when exposed to them. “If it’s just a rash, many times it is still recommended.”
The egg-free vaccine is not readily available in the area but Sullender said that the vaccine is available in Terre Haute.
There are still a few individuals who should not vaccinate against the virus. The vaccine is not approved for children under 6 months of age as well as individuals who have had a severe reaction to the injection in the past. People with a fever or other moderate or severe illness should wait until the illness subsides before getting the shot. Those with Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome that happened after the vaccination usually should not be vaccinated.
Symptoms of the flu often include fever and chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny or stuffy nose. The symptoms often present themselves differently in each person. The symptoms are also not a definite sign that the person has the flu.
Sullender said many believe believe that if they have any of the symptoms or upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea that they have the flu. “That’s just not always the case. There are other illnesses that have similar symptoms as well.”
”The most important thing is that if people have symptoms, they need to stay home, cover their cough and wash their hands,” said Sullender.
This year’s flu vaccine is slightly different than the vaccine available in past years. Most of the vaccine this year is quadrivalent vaccine that covers against two strains of influenza A virus as well as two strains of influenza B virus. In the past, the vaccine has contained two strains of the A virus and just one strain of the B virus.
”The new vaccine will hopefully keep everyone better protected,” said Sullender. “Each year, the flu is different and it can effect people differently.”
Flu vaccines work by developing antibodies over the course of about two weeks. The antibodies then protect people from infection with the viruses in the vaccine.
Locally, the flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, the local health department, doctor’s offices, and clinics.
For more information on the flu vaccine, visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov or contact the health department at 254-8666.