Wednesday, 05 December 2018 16:38

It’s Not Too Late to Get a 2018 Flu Shot!

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It’s Not Too Late to Get a 2018 Flu Shot! Supplied photo

This winter, when you see signs reading “Get Your Flu Vaccine,” you might ask “Isn’t it too late to get vaccinated?” No, it’s not too late, according to public health professionals.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that flu vaccination efforts continue throughout the flu season. While it’s recommended to get vaccinated by the end of October so that people are more likely to be protected against the flu when activity picks up in the community, vaccination into December and beyond can be beneficial during most flu seasons, including this one.

“Flu season most often peaks between December and March, but activity can occur as late as May,” said Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse for Preventive Services for the Oswego County Health Department. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now.”

Martin noted it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, so it’s best to get vaccinated early.

For millions of people every season, the flu means a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. Millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu each year.

The flu vaccine can help reduce the risk of flu and its potentially serious complications. There are many studies that show that flu vaccination reduces flu illnesses, doctor visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevents flu-related hospitalizations. A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients. However, fewer than half of the people in the United States reported getting a flu vaccine during that season, leaving millions of people unprotected.

A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu viruses.

Some people are at high risk for serious flu-related complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death. People at high risk include pregnant women; children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old; people 65 years of age and older; and people who have certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. Vaccinating pregnant woman helps protect them from flu illness and hospitalization. Vaccination of pregnant women has been shown to help protect the baby from flu infection for several months after birth, before the baby can be vaccinated.

It’s also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone at high risk, including children younger than six months who are too young to get a flu vaccine.

“Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” said Anna McNamara, Immunization Coordinator for the Oswego County Health Department.

So, next time you see a sign that says, “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” stop in and get one, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

The Oswego County Health Department offers flu shots for all ages weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego. No appointment is needed; walk-ins are welcome.

Flu shots are also available in Pulaski on the third Tuesday of every month, from 9 to 11 a.m. by appointment only, at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

The cost of the influenza vaccination is $41 for adults and children, and $70 for anyone over 65 years of age requesting the high dose flu vaccine. Pneumonia vaccine is also available for adults at the flu clinics; Pneumovax at a cost of $80 and Prevnar 13 at a cost of $143. Both vaccines are covered by Medicaid and Medicare Part B. Please bring shot records for children to the immunization clinics. The nasal flu mist is not available at the clinic.

The health department only accepts cash or checks for payment. The department can bill UMR (POMCO) plans, Empire, Excellus BCBS, Fidelis, United Health Care (Community Plan (Medicaid) and Medicare Advantage Plans), Medicaid, and Medicare. All patients should bring their insurance benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.

For those covered by other insurance providers, the health department will provide a receipt that may be submitted to an insurance provider for possible reimbursement. For those who are uninsured, the county health department may be able to provide the vaccine at a reduced rate. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

For more information on vaccine preventable diseases, immunizations, or to schedule an appointment for the preventive office, call 315-349-3547.

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