La Paz County Health Department is celebrating National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 4-10) by reminding residents and visitors that it is not too late to vaccinate against the influenza virus.
“Flu season typically peaks in February,” says Diana Grazier, Director of Nursing for La Paz County Health Department, “so those who have not received a flu shot are the ones most likely to become February’s victims. Some think that if they do not receive the flu vaccine by November that it is either not necessary, or it will not work. Neither belief is true. The vaccine is viable through June, and more people come down with the flu in February than in any other month. The body’s immune system is stimulated upon receipt of the vaccine, although a full response can take up to two weeks. Therefore, those receiving a shot in December and January will have a full response by February at the height of the flu season. It’s not too late.”
For millions of people each year, the flu can bring a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed instead of at work or school. However, you may not realize that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. The flu can also be deadly. Between 1976 and 2007, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that annual flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of about 3,000 people to a high of about 49,000 people.
Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. For those at greater risk for complications, getting the flu vaccine is especially important. People at greater risk include:
Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old
People with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes (type 1 and 2), or heart and lung disease
People 65 years or older
It’s also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone in one or more of these high risk groups, or for babies younger than 6 months because they are too young to get the vaccine.
An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. It’s available in two forms: shots and a nasal spray. While the regular flu shot can be given to just about everyone, the nasal spray vaccine is approved only for use in healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who aren’t pregnant.
Other good habits, such as frequently washing your hands, getting plenty of sleep, engaging in physical activity, managing stress, drinking water, and eating good food, will help you stay healthy in the winter and all year. Hand sanitizer is an inexpensive way to ensure germ free hands and is available at most stores.
La Paz County Health Department still has influenza vaccination. The health department takes adult walk-ins at their Parker office: 1112 Joshua Ave, Suite 206 Monday – Thursday from 8 am – 4 pm. We still have some children’s vaccine left – Tuesdays 8 – 11:30 am and 1 – 4 PM. Children’s vaccines are free but we appreciate a $10 donation for adult influenza vaccines. For more information please call 928-669-1100.