PARSONS – The trees in and surrounding Tucker County are still verdant, temperatures are still stretching into the 80s and most folks are still using a fan or air conditioner to keep cool. It seems an odd time to consider something like a flu shot, but officials are encouraging local residents to consider getting this vaccine – a preventative measure – to insure the county remains healthy through the fall, winter and into the spring.
Kim Ledden, Tucker County Health Department Nurse, said the vaccines for the 2014 to 2015 flu season are being shipped to doctors, pharmacies, health departments and other locations for distribution, and those shipments started in July.
“The flu season typicall runs October through May, with the peak being in January or February,” Ledden said. “The CDC used to say the vaccine only lasted for about three months, but new releases claim the vaccine is lasting a year. Officials are encouraging people to receive the vaccine by October.”
Ledden said folks should consider taking a yearly flu vaccine and said it takes up to two weeks for your system to build up immunity to the disease after taking the shot or the nasal spray.
“So now is the perfect time to take the vaccine, so you are completely covered and your body is prepared for the flu season,” Ledden said. “Once we receive vaccines at the Tucker County Health Department, we will advertise to let residents know when we will be giving the vaccine.”
Ledden said this year’s vaccine is a trivalent, which covers strain A, B and H1N1 – there is also a quadravalent vaccine that has coverage for another B strain. She said the Tucker County Health Department usually gets the quadravalent flu shots because some many residents are at high risk.
“High risk patients should always take the flu vaccine unless they are allergic,” Ledden said. “Those in the high risk group include those more than 65 years old, pregnant women, those with diabetes, those with chronic lung disease, children younger than five and people who are around small children.
“The flu vaccine is designed for those age six months and older,” Ledden said. “Some people are able to take a nasal spray instead of the vaccine.”
Ledden said the flu vaccine is not 100 percent guaranteed, but said those taking the flu vaccine would have significantly less symptoms should they contract the disease.
“And you cannot get the flu from taking the flu vaccine,” Ledden said. “It takes two weeks to build immunity, and during that time, some people have aches, pains and mild symptoms, but it is nothing compared to dying from flu related illnesses.”
Ledden said the 2013 to 2014 flu season in Tucker County was about the same as the year before.
“There were no extreme outbreaks,” Ledden said. “H1N1 was the most prevalent flu strain during last year’s flu season.”
Ledden encourages folks to get out soon and take the flu vaccination.
“We don’t want our county residents to be sick,” Ledden said. “We want Tucker County to be a well community. Prevention is very important. Get a flu vaccination.”
Ledden said if folks do get the flu, to check with their physician.
“There are medicines that can help lessen the symptoms and length of the flu,” Ledden said. “If you are sick, do not go around others especially the very young and elderly. If you cannot take the flu vaccine, wash your hands often, and stay away from large gatherings of people. When you cough, do so into a tissue and dispose of it properly.
The CDC website said that shipments of the flu vaccine began in July and will continue throughout September and October. They said there will be approximately 154 to 160 million doses available for the 2014 to 2015 flu season.
The Tucker County Health Department is located at 219 Sunnyside Lane in Parsons, in the basement of the Senior Center. Additional information about the flu vaccine is available by calling 304-478-3572.