|Sun, Sep 21, 2014 12:06 AM
|Issue of September 17, 2014
January 16, 2013 | 11:58 AM
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's still too early to determine the severity of the flu outbreak of 2013. That said, health officials still urge people to get their flu vaccination.
"When someone asks if I should still get it, I say, 'Yes, yes and yes'," Jeanine Fonda, nursing administrator for the Harrison County Health Dept., said. "We don't promise that someone absolutely, 100 percent, won't get the flu, but it covers three strands of the flu and, if someone gets one of the other types, it could reduce the time they are sick from two or three weeks down to three or four days. Nothing is 100 percent effective, but this is the next closest thing."
In Indiana, according to the CDC, 58.2 percent of those tested this flu season have tested positive for the flu. Statewide stats show the number of flu cases reached its first spike of the flu season in the final week of December and the first week of January. It's the earliest spike in the flu season since the H1N1 pandemic of 2009-10. The highest number of flu cases are Influenza A/H3 (86 percent) and Influenza B (4.7 percent), which this year's vaccine covers.
The number of flu-related deaths in Indiana reached 21 as of Monday, a number Fonda says is disheartening because the flu is so preventable. Health officials say two of the deaths were individuals younger than 18 years of age. Several deaths have been reported in other states, including South Carolina (22), Illinois (six) and Massachusetts (18). Two weeks ago, a man from Campbell County, Ky., died as a result of the flu for that state's only flu-related death to date.
No official shortages of the influenza vaccine have been reported, state health officials say. Locally, it appears as though there is plenty of vaccine available.
This year's vaccine offers protection against the three most common strains of influenza: H3N2, H1N1 and Influenza B. The H3N2 strain appears to be predominant thus far in the season.
Vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months of age or older. It is especially important for those at higher risk of complications related to the flu — pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and/ or compromised immune systems and the elderly — to get vaccinated.
Flu vaccines are offered in most doctor's offices in the county.
Also, the Harrison County Health Dept. recently received a shipment of 200 vaccinations for all ages. Each dose is $15; an appointment must be scheduled by calling 738-3237, ext. 1017. Health department hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (appointments are between 8:15 and 4).
According to flu.gov, the federal government website managed by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, four local businesses also offer the flu vaccine.
Butt Drugs in Corydon had 60 to 70 doses available as of yesterday (Tuesday) for people ages 18 and older. Most health insurance companies will cover the cost of the vaccine; however, for those without insurance, the cost is $35.
CVS/pharmacy and Walgreens, both also in Corydon, also had the vaccine available for $31.99 for those who do not have insurance.
Rite Aid in New Salisbury, which received a shipment yesterday, said the cost is $29.99 for those who do not have insurance.
Those who get the flu shot should remember that, even though they've been vaccinated, it doesn't take effect for two weeks. That means it's important to take necessary to protect against catching the flu. Here are three simple steps to help:
Clean — Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water. Also, do not touch your face (eyes, nose, mouth).
Cover — Cover your cough and sneeze with your arm or a disposable tissue.
Contain — Stay home when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.