Health officials around the nation and locally are heralding the oncoming influenza season and are recommending a flu vaccine as the best course of coverage.
The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency announced their upcoming schedule of flu vaccine clinics with the first beginning on Oct. 2 in Modesto and continuing through Dec. 8. There will be one clinic in Turlock from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 11 at the Turlock Flea Market at 2000 East Avenue.
The seasonal flu vaccine will be available for anyone six months or older. The vaccination will be offered at a suggested cost of $27, payable by check or cash. However, the SCHSA said no one will be turned away from getting the vaccination for inability to pay.
In addition to the clinics the SCHSA will offer flu vaccinations at their office at 820 Scenic Drive in Modesto. Flu vaccinations will be available on a walk-in basis from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays. Appointments can be made for the flu vaccination and are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.
Prior to each flu season the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts research into which strains are the most likely to circulate among the population. For the 2016-17 flu season the vaccines are meant to protect against H1N1, H3N2, and the B/Victoria lineage.
Seasonal flu activity does have an element of unpredictability, however in the past flu season typically starts in October and continues through May, with peaks in December through March.
It takes about two weeks for the body’s immune system to fully respond to the flu vaccine.
“The flu virus can be spread 24 hours before a person is aware that they are ill,” said SCHSA Public Health Officer Dr. John Walker. “Get the flu vaccine to protect others and those you love. This year should be a better match of the vaccine with the circulating virus.”
For this season the CDC is only recommending people get injectable flu vaccinations. The CDC examined the effectiveness of intranasal spray vaccines during the previous flu season and found it had a vaccine effectiveness rate of 46 percent, compared to a 65 percent rate for injectable vaccines last season. Additionally the CDC found the intranasal spray, which was a quadrivalent strain meant to protect against four strains, was 0 percent effective in protecting against one of the strains circulating last flu season.
In addition to getting vaccinated, Public Health Officials recommend everyone help prevent the spread of the seasonal flu by:
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
• Covering your coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or tissue;
• Washing your hands often. Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are not able to wash your hands;
• Staying home if you are sick.