Tuesday Oct 28 2008
No shortage of flu vaccine
By: Megan Wood The Press-Tribune
Strongly recommended for children, elderly, pregnant women
It’s that time of year again. Protect yourself and loved ones this season by rolling up your sleeves and taking a shot against the influenza disease. According to Mark Starr, director of the Placer County Community Health and Clinics Division, about 35,000 Americans die of seasonal flu each year. “The flu shot is important every year for each individual to protect not only their own health but also to prevent spreading it to others who may experience complications due to health problems,” Starr said. The California Department of Public Health and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend that children ages 6 months to 18 years, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions receive the flu shot as they are at a higher risk for complications. As opposed to years past, this year there is no shortage of the vaccine and therefore the flu shot will be made available to anyone who is interested in preventing the flu. “We had some pretty nasty flu last year and this year they’re really recommending that kids get one,” said Kathy Sheldon, a Roseville parent who brought her daughter, Kaylee, 10, to a Sutter Express Care clinic to receive a flu shot. Pete Dzwilewski, director of Sutter Express Care says that already more than 1,100 flu shots have been administered by retail clinics since Sept. 1. Last season, the total number of flu shots administered by Sutter Express Care was 1,400. Kaylee’s sister, Talia, a seventh-grader at Buljan Middle School came along for support but a bad experience with a recent intravenous resulted in Talia not wanting to get vaccinated. For those who resist protecting themselves due to a fear of needles, this year an intranasal form known as flu mist, is available to those who meet medical guidelines and are between the ages of 5 and 49. “It’s not that bad, it didn’t even hurt,” Kaylee said after her shot, which took place in a matter of seconds. Upon seeing her sister receive a vaccination with ease, Talia opted to receive a flu shot as well. “I’ll be brave,” Talia said of her decision to be vaccinated, during which she asked the nurse, “is it done yet?” Symptoms of the flu include fever, muscle aches, coughing and a general feeling of malaise, said Starr. He also said that although younger children may not get as sick, they are carriers of the flu virus due to the fact that they may not take the same preventive precautions as adults do and they are more exposed to the virus through other children. According to Kaiser Permanente, those who are allergic to eggs or have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome should consult a physician before receiving a flu shot. Flu shots typically cost $20. The cost may be reduced based on income or for MediCare members with Part B who are not enrolled in an HMO plan. To find a clinic nearest you visit www.placer.ca.gov, www.sutterexpresscare.com or www.kaiserpermanente.org.