Flu vaccine is plentiful

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The start of flu season is right around the corner and the Barry County Health Depart-ment is ready to begin administering this year's supply of flu vaccine on Monday, Oct. 15.

Instead of scheduling flu clinics, the local health department will be giving out flu shots on a walk-in basis. The shots will be offered Monday through Friday at the Cassville office on Main Street between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and at the health department's Monett location from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.

This year, the health department ordered 2,000 doses of flu vaccine, according to Administrator Kathleen King.

"There is no shortage of flu vaccine this year and no delay in shipment," said King. "These shots are available to all county residents and we are not limiting it to certain individuals this fall."

King said the shot is recommended for the young and the old and anyone who suffers from chronic illness or immune problems. She added that healthcare workers are also being encouraged to get a flu shot this year.

The health department will be offering the flu vaccine at the same price as last year, which is $15. Medicare roster billing will again be provided, and Medicare enrollees are asked to bring their Medicare Part B cards and Medicare Replacement Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan coverage cards with them at the time of the vaccine.

"The health department encourages residents to check with their private medical provider to see if vaccine is available at their offices," King said.

The flu season typically begins at the end of October and can extend through April. The vaccine takes two weeks to take effect and is usually effective for the entire season.

King encourages those who have questions about the vaccine to contact their own physician.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 132 million doses of flu vaccine available in the United States, which is more than the nation has ever produced.

The flu shot, according to the CDC, is an inactivated vaccine, containing killed virus, that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than six months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

Each vaccine contains three influenza viruses: one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year.

The CDC has issued a list of people who should get vaccinated each year. They include:

• People at high risk for complications from the flu, including: children aged 6 months to 5; pregnant women; people 50 years of age and older; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions; and people who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu; household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age; and healthcare workers.

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