Flu vaccine now available in King County

September 11, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10:27 a.m. Sept. 11, 2009

Seasonal flu vaccine is available in King County, public health officials announced Thursday. Officials said vaccination is the best way prevent getting sick and lessen the severity of illness.

Federal health officials expect a separate vaccine to protect the H1N1 flu strain, or swine flu, to be distributed in October.

In King County, flu shots are available now at many doctors’ offices and other health providers, including drugstores and pharmacies.

Some healthcare providers also have FluMist, the live-attenuated vaccine. Instead of an injection, a small amount of vaccine is sprayed into each nostril.

“Getting a flu shot protects you, your family and your community against a highly contagious illness that causes preventable medical visits, inappropriate antibiotic treatments, hospitalizations and deaths every year,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, chief of communicable disease and immunizations for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a news release. “Both the seasonal flu and H1N1 strains are predicted to be circulating in the community this flu season, so it’s especially important that people who are recommended to receive each vaccine get protected.  Getting the seasonal flu vaccine is the first step.”

Unlike the common cold, the flu has a swift onset of symptoms. The illness begins with two to seven days of fever, headache, muscle aches, extreme fatigue, runny nose and sore throat, and a cough that is often severe and may last seven days or more. Influenza can also lead to serious bacterial pneumonia, including MRSA.

“Now is the time to get vaccinated while supplies are plentiful and health care providers’ offices and pharmacies are not as busy,” Duchin said.

Who should get a seasonal flu vaccine?

  • People 6 months to 19 years old.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People 50 years of age and older.
  • People 6 months or older, with certain chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease — including asthma — kidney disease or diabetes.
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

People who live with or care for others at high risk for flu-related health complications should be vaccinated as well. Health care workers should also be vaccinated.

Good hygiene habits can limit the spread of the flu: Cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands often, avoid close contact with ill people, and stay home from work, school and other public settings when ill.

Visit the public health department’s Stop Germs, Stay Healthy! Web site.

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