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Health department urges seasonal flu vaccination

POSTED October 14, 2011 6:38 p.m.

 

The Stanislaus County Public Health Department is gearing up for another flu season and offering three community vaccination clinics to help prevent as many cases as possible this year.

The three clinics will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Riverbank Community Center; noon to 7 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Hammond Senior Center in Patterson; and noon to 7 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Modesto City School’s Staff Development Center.

Every year, more than 225,000 people are hospitalized and more than 35,000 die in the United States due to the flu and its complications, according to the state health department.

“The seasonal flu vaccine is an important and safe way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the seasonal flu,” said Dr. John Walker, Stanislaus County public health officer. “Everyone 6 months and over should get a flu shot this fall.”

This year the flu vaccine will offer protection against three strains A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like (same strain as the 2009 H1N1 vaccine); A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like; and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like antigens.

“The H1N1 that caused the pandemic is still around,” Walker said. “It’s not global, but still around for us this year.”

Last flu season went later into the year, with cases still reported in April.

“Traditionally, California, especially Northern California, has a late flu season. It peaks in January, into February, and often into March; and last year we went into April,” Walker said. “For many of our county residents, it caught them by surprise, and many people, unfortunately, didn’t get vaccinated.”

Walker also urged people who may have gotten vaccinated late in the season last year to get vaccinated again this year.

“The flu vaccine only lasts for six, or at the most, eight months so people need to get vaccinated again for this year,” he said.

The very young and the elderly, as well as pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions are more susceptible to suffering complications and/or death from influenza.

Walker encouraged those over 65 or those who have chronic illnesses to ask their physician about getting the pneumococcal vaccine, along with the flu vaccine. The vaccine helps prevent pneumonia, a common complication of the flu, which can be fatal.

To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, the public should:

• Stay home when sick to avoid infecting others.

• Cover your cough or sneeze using your elbow or a tissue and properly disposing of the used tissue.

• Wash hands thoroughly using soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with hands that are not clean.

• Stay healthy. Everyone benefits from eating a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, not smoking, and getting adequate rest and exercise.

Additional seasonal flu information can be found at the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency website: www.hsahealth.org or by calling 558-8872.

Insurances accepted at the flu vaccine clinics include: Medicare Part B, Medi-Cal, MIA, Anthem Blue Cross Medi-Cal and Health Net Medi-Cal. Payment will not be requested for children or adults who are covered under these plans.

Individuals covered under a private insurance should receive their vaccination from their health care provider or may receive their vaccination at the community clinic for a cost of $25 for adults and $10 for children aged 6 months through 18 years of age.

Patients who are not covered under any insurance may receive their vaccination at a cost of $25 for adults, and $10 for children aged 6 months through 18 years of age. A patient’s inability to pay will not be a barrier in receiving a vaccination.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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