The Woodward News

December 30, 2012

Still time to get vaccinated against flu

Chris Cooper
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Flu season is upon us, but not to worry as the Woodward County Health Department assures us there's still time to take preventative measures against the illness.

Lanette Terry, RN, and district nurse manager with the health department, said, "Flu season is usually in fall through spring, we see peaks in December, February, and March. The flu vaccine has 3 different strains of flu it protects against, 2 type A's and a type B, so that's why we see different peaks at different times is because of the multiple strains."

Though we've nearly made it through December, that doesn't necessarily mean the first peak is over.

"In Oklahoma we've seen an increase in the last few weeks with the flu being identified," Terry said.

With this increase in cases and it being the midst of the flu season, she said it's even more important for people to get vaccinated to help protect themselves from the virus.

"Now's an excellent time to come get the flu vaccine. We've been doing them since October trying to get people vaccinated because we do start see it in increase in November and December, but it's never too late," she said.

As for who should get vaccinated, Terry said, "We vaccinate anyone over 6 months of age. Everybody 6 months and older should be vaccinated."

However, Terry said some people neglect to get flu vaccinations because they "misunderstand what the flu really is.  It's a severe illness that affects the respiratory system."

The flu can even be fatal in some cases, which is why vaccinations are important.  Especially since the vaccine not only benefits you, but those around you, Terry said.

"For safety, vaccines aren't tested on certain age groups, so we need to protect children under 6-months-old by getting vaccinated ourselves. That helps protect them (babies) by not spreading the virus to them," she said.

She continued, "There's also people in the community who are immune compromised who the vaccine may not affect, so we need to protect them as well."

In addition to the very young and immune compromised being highly susceptible to the illness, she said the most vulnerable also include the elderly as well as pregnant women, with pregnant women facing some serious problems if they contract the illness.

"Getting ill can cause these women to possibly to go into early labor, which can cause serious complications," Terry said.

So while everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated, Terry said those within the at risk groups are especially urged to get a flu shot if they are eligible. Those who live, work or are frequently around susceptible persons are also urged to get the vaccine, she said.

Immunizations are available on Mondays at the Woodward County Health Department between the hours of 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and then again from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Terry also suggests people check with their own doctor or local pharmacists as well to see if they administer the vaccine.  Some stores, such as Walgreens, also offer flu shots.

Terry concluded saying that In addition to the flu shot, the practice of using hand sanitizer, keeping your hands away from you face, and staying home when you're ill can also help prevent the spread of flu.