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Cooler weather is approaching and the children are back in school. As autumn arrives, so does flu season.
Influenza vaccines are already available at The Medical Center and due to arrive this week at the Ray County Health Department.
Richmond Family Clinic and Family Practice of Ray County will receive their vaccine shipment by the middle of October.
“Late fall is the best time to get your influenza vaccination,” said Ray County Health Administrator Stacey Cox, R.N. “Flu season peaks between late December and early March. Getting a shot now gives the body time to produce the antibodies to mount a strong defense.”
The health department will receive their order of flu vaccine late this week and will begin its annual clinics throughout the county too. (A Flu Shot Schedule for 2008 will appear as they are scheduled on the Community Calendar, page 2, of The Daily News for convenience.) The cost is $20 per shot, or Medicare Part B or Medicaid cards will be accepted.
Cox said flu vaccinations are recommended for people at risk for a serious case of influenza or those who may have complications from the flu, but even healthy adults can benefit from the shot.
“At risk groups include individuals over the age of 65, people who have serious, long term health problems such as diabetes, heart or lung disease and patients with suppressed or weakened immune system,” Cox explained. “But, anyone who wants to reduce their chance of catching influenza should consider the vaccination.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases “recommends vaccination of all children aged six months to 18 years should begin before or during the 2008-09 influenza season if feasible, but no later than during the 2009-10 influenza season.”
As some children and adolescents are more prone to influenza and other illnesses, parents and guardians should discuss the vaccination with their physician or pediatrician if there are any questions.
Influenza vaccinations should be re-administered annually. Each year, the vaccine is designed to protect again flu viruses that are likely to circulate during the upcoming winter. The flu shot will aid in preventing 60 to 70 percent of the flu strains and 90 percent of deaths related to influenza.
The CDC indicates, “at the current time, six influenza vaccine manufacturers are projecting that as many as 146 million doses of influenza vaccine will be available from currently licensed manufacturers in the U.S. for use during the 2008-09 influenza season. This will be the most flu vaccine ever distributed in the U.S. during a single influenza season.”