A Shot in the Arm

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In the past, people have packed local health departments when flu shots become available, usually during the fall. The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department delivers as well, but just to local businesses and industries. Those vaccines come in the form of what are called "private" vaccines, available to those who are not high-risk patients.

"We've had our private vaccine, we ordered it several weeks ago," says Janie Moore, the health department's clinical director. "We had no problem getting it; that's why I don't think there's a shortage this year."

In recent years, the West Virginia Health Department has had a shortage of the vaccine given high-risk patients, including those having medical problems.

Flu shots have been in increasing demand in the past ten years. They're recommended mainly for the very young and the very old.

"It's going to be recommended children get the flu shot beginning at six months of age," Moore says. "It's encouraged this year, but it is not recommended until next year. Which means, hopefully, the state will be able to give us more vaccine, because they say we'll have more people to give the vaccine to."

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, which covers Wood, Pleasants, Ritchie and Wirt Counties, plans to announce its flu schedule soon. Meanwhile, flu shots will be provided for high-risk Washington County residents beginning next week.

Shots for everyone else will be made available beginning in November. Washington County's health department, 342 Muskingum Dirve, will start giving flu shots Monday, Oct. 14.

Marietta's health department, located at 304 Puthnam Street, will begin its flu shot program on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

They'll be available at both locations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.

  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.

  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvac.htm ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)