Flu vaccine arrives early in Allen County

By and


September 14, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Influenza vaccine arrived early this year at the Allen County headquarters of the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department.
“We started getting it (doses) about two weeks ago and now we have all 500” authorized for Allen County, said Diane Bertone, local health department administrator.
The first Monday walk-in clinic was this week and by early afternoon about 15 people had taken advantage. Cost is $25 for those not covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield or enrolled in Medicare or covered by Medicaid.
DeeDee Martin, public health nurse at the health department, 221 S. Jefferson Ave., said vaccine arrived early, apparently “just because of availability. In the past it has been October 
before the vaccine was distributed.”
She expects the 500 doses allocated to Allen County to be expended by late October.
While walk-ins are accepted on Mondays, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m., immunizations may be arranged by appointment at the health center during the other days of the work week.
Public flu immunization clinics are scheduled Sept. 27, 9 to 10 a.m., at the Humboldt Senior Center; Sept. 28, 10:30-11-45 a.m., Iola Senior Center; Oct. 5, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Allen County Community College.
Other clinics may be arranged, including those at private businesses, by calling the health center at 365-2191.

OTHER PLACES, such as The Family Physicians in Iola, received their supply of flu vaccine Sept. 1.
Virgil Bourne, practice administrator at The Family Physicians, noted that the vaccine is different each year.
“If you received one last year, you need to have another vaccination this year for the new strains of the virus that are prevalent this season,” Bourne said.
Vaccination before December is best, he said. Doing so ensures the protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is highest.
Flu season tends to run as early as October through late May.
The Family Physicians offers three different flu shots: a regular flu shot for people 6 months and older; a high-dose flu shot approved for those 65 and older, which contains four times the amount of antigen as regular flu shots to aid those with weakened immune systems; and an intradermal flu shot for those between 18 and 64.
There also is a nasal spray flu vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses.
The viruses in the spray do not cause the flu, Bourne stressed. Those can be given to anybody 2-49 who are not pregnant.
Vaccinations at The Family Physicians cost $35, unless a patient has insurance coverage.
Bourne noted the pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for all children under 5. It is routinely given to infants as a series of four doses, ones at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months. Other children over 2 years old and considered otherwise at risk should receive the vaccination, he said.

THE CENTERS for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months and older be immunized. The recommendation is intended to remove barriers to flu immunization … and protect as many people as possible against the dangers of flu, according to the CDCP website.
The decision is supported by evidence that influenza vaccination is a safe preventive measure with potential benefit across all age groups.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it is especially important that certain people are vaccinated, either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
This includes:
— Children ages 6 to 59 months;
— People 50 and older;
— People with chronic disorders, including diabetes;
— Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season;
— Children ages 6 months to 18 years receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
— Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities;
— People who are morbidly obese;
— Health-care personnel;
— Caregivers of children and those with medical conditions.

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