Senior citizens and others in high-risk categories for influenza have a variety of options for getting a vaccine this year.
The Gila County Health Department will have a clinic at a date to be announced in November and the vaccines will also be offered at the Saturday, Nov. 4, Payson Health and Care Fair, which will be at the old gymnasium at Payson High School.
The Payson Regional Medical Center's Senior Circle will have flu shot clinics as well, said director Cory Houghton.
The Senior Center in Pine will be giving flu shots from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16, and Monday, Oct. 30. Call Bruce at (928) 476-4633 for an appointment. The shots will be given in the Pine Strawberry Community Center dining room on the corner of Highway 87 and Randall Road.
Clinics are also planned at a number of businesses in the community:
- Bashas' on Thursday, Oct. 19. Call (877) 944-9626, toll free, for details
- Diversified Solutions. Call for an appointment, (928) 472-3388
- Safeway, by appointment. Call (928) 472-8242 through physician or clinic 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2.
- Walgreens at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26.
- Wal-Mart, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 28 and 29.
Individual physicians will also be providing the vaccines for their patients.
The following information about the flu is from the Center for Disease Control Web site:
What is Influenza (also called Flu)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.
Every year in the United States, on average:
- 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu.
- More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications.
- About 36,000 people die from flu.
Some people, such as the elderly, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
Symptoms of flu include:
- Fever (usually high)
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur, but are more common in children than adults.
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
How Flu Spreads
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes, people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouths or noses. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
When to Get Vaccinated
October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but getting vaccinated in December or even later can still be beneficial since most influenza activity occurs in January or later in most years. Though it varies, flu season can last as late as May.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
In general, anyone who wants to reduce his or her chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high-risk persons.
People who should get vaccinated each year are:
1. People at high risk for complications from the flu, including children aged 6 to 9 months of age, pregnant women, people 50 years of age and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions and people who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
2. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above), household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated), and health care workers.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include people who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, people who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past, people who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously, children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group), people who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
Preventing the Flu
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall, but good health habits and antiviral medications are other measures that can help protect against the flu. Four anti-viral drugs (amantadine, rimantadine, zanamavir and oseltamivir) are approved for use in preventing the flu. These are prescription medications, and a doctor should be consulted before they are used. However, please note that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC recommend that neither amantadine nor rimantadine be used for the treatment or prevention of influenza A in the United States at this time because testing of recently circulating influenza A viruses has indicated high levels of resistance to amantadine and rimantadine.
Good health habits are also an important way to help prevent the flu.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.