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9/18/2013

Get vaccinated now for early, long-lasting protection against flu

Vaccine widely available at clinics and pharmacies in Clark County

Contact

Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer
Phone: (360) 397-8412
alan.melnick@clark.wa.gov

Vancouver, WA − Flu vaccine is widely available in Clark County, and health officials are recommending everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated early.

“Some people delay getting a flu shot in the mistaken belief that vaccine effectiveness will wear off before winter, when flu season typically ramps up,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer. “Actually, you are better off getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available because flu season starts early some years. The sooner you’re vaccinated, the sooner you’re protected − and you’ll stay protected throughout the flu season.”

About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop and provide protection against the disease. Flu shots remain the best defense for preventing flu-related illness and missed days at school or work.

Flu can occur any time, but primarily from October through May. Flu is a contagious respiratory disease that kills more people in the U.S. than any other vaccine-preventable disease. On average, nearly 24,000 people die each year of flu, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized. Flu symptoms can be severe, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue and occasionally nausea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots for everyone 6 months and older, with rare exceptions. Vaccination with a live, nasal-spray flu vaccine (FluMist) is an option for people between two and 49 who are healthy and not pregnant.

People at greatest risk of complications from flu are especially urged to get vaccinated. They are young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease and long-term health conditions.

To get vaccinated, call your health care provider or pharmacy. If you don’t have health insurance, call Sea Mar Community Health Centers at (360) 852-9070 to make an appointment for a low-cost flu shot.

Clark County employees will line up for vaccinations at work in early October. “We hope our example will encourage other businesses to offer flu shots at work,” said Dr. Melnick. “A healthier workforce is a more productive workforce. By getting vaccinated, we’re protecting our personal health and the health of others around us.”

Businesses wanting to provide onsite flu shots can call:
• Adventist Health: (503) 251-6818
• Get a Flu Shot: 1-877-358-7468 (Getaflushot.com)
• Maxim Healthcare Service: (360) 896-7289
• Passport Health: (360) 597-4495

In addition to flu shots, these everyday practices can reduce the chance of catching or spreading disease:
• Cough or sneeze into your arm or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. Throw away the tissue and wash your hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home and limit contact with others.
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

For more information, see http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm.

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