Flu Concerns During Flu Shot Shortage

Although some national health experts are warning people about a looming flu crisis in hospitals and emergency rooms, local health officials say we can most likely take a deep breath and relax, that is of course if you cover your mouth and wash your hands.

The point is hygiene will be key this year.

As senior citizens and others at high risk for the flu await the limited vaccination, tens of millions will go without and that has health professionals concerned.

Kristin Kelly, a family physician, says, “The bad thing about the flu is that it can be contagious the day before you experience symptoms and up to seven days after having the virus.”

Yet Leon County Health Department medical director Marjorie Kirsch says they aren't expecting a crisis this flu season.

Dr. Marjorie Kirsch says, “If less people are vaccinated there's the potential for more spreading of the flu, but there is no indication of a severe strain going around. We're hoping people will practice good hygiene in order to prevent the flu.”

Here are some healthy habits: avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home if you are sick and keep those hands clean and away from your face.

The Leon County Health Department will send a nurse out to your workplace or school to give hygiene demonstrations. For more information call (850) 487-3186.

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Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.

  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.

  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvac.htm ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)