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BEATING THE FLU

Flu vaccine is single best way to prevent influenza

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POSTED December 19, 2012 5:36 p.m.

The flu season usually peaks in December, January, and February. But it’s not advisable for everyone to wait until then to take action and protect themselves – as well as other people – against this year’s seasonal influenza.

In fact, “October is not too soon to get the annual influenza vaccine because it takes about two weeks for immunity to fully set in. So it’s good to get it as soon as the vaccine is available,” said Krista Dommer with the San Joaquin County Public Health Services.

“The single best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated,” was the recommendation given back in October by San Joaquin County Health Officer, Dr. Karen Furst.

That directive comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, noting that influenza is a major public health threat. Here are the statistics: more than 36,000 people in the U.S. die because of the flu – most of them are 50 or older – and flu is the cause of more deaths than any other vaccine-preventable disease. In the U.S., flu puts about 200,000 people in the hospital annually; the flu vaccine helps prevent that from happening by preventing severe illness from developing. By getting vaccinated, people, especially those who live with or care for others who are at high risk of complications from the flu, end up protecting others as well – be they family members or co-workers.

Where to get free vaccination

Besides public health clinics, there are many other sources in the community where seasonal influenza vaccine is available. These include doctor’s offices, neighborhood pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS, and grocery stores. Everyone from six-month-old babies and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as the current season’s vaccine become available. The reason for that, said Dommer, is because it takes two to four weeks to build up immunity. The time to get a flu vaccine is not when you experience the symptoms, she said.

While the usual charge per vaccine shot is $15, inability to pay should not be a reason for balking to take the vaccination. “No one will be turned away because of inability to pay,” Dommer said.

Below are everyday preventive stops you can take to stop the spread of germs from the San Joaquin Public Health Services:

• Cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

• Keep your body healthy by eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

• If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without  the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

Public Health clinics where flu vaccine is available in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, plus dates and hours:

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY

• Public Health Services, 1601 E. Hazelton Ave., Stockton – Monday and Tuesday, 1 to 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

• 124 Sycamore Avenue, Manteca – Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

STANISLAUS COUNTY

The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency held three seasonal flu vaccination clinics in October and the first week of November. For additional flu information, call the Flu Information line at (209) 558-8872. Or you can visit the Health Services Agency web site at www.hsahealth.org.

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