Flu season returns
Appeal Staff Writer
Carson residents looking for a shot in the arm to prevent influenza this winter have a myriad of opportunities to do so this month.
The flu, according to public health officials, has morphed from an annoyance cured with a little bit of mom’s love, plenty of liquids and a hearty helping of homemade chicken soup – to a full-on public health crisis.
Recent numbers suggest the increasingly dangerous strains of the flu virus, combined with almost one-quarter of Americans reaching the 60-plus threshold, may cause sweeping change in the way the flu is perceived, local health officials said.
“All those realms of public health preparedness are looking to what may happen,” said Dustin Boothe, epidemiologist for Carson City Health and Human Services. “The hot topic nowadays is dealing with an influenza that reaches a pandemic proportions.
“We’re (asking) now that we have a vaccine developed, how we can try to mass-immunize people?”
The answer may come Saturday as Carson health officials and volunteers – as well as residents looking to be vaccinated – will participate in a “public health drill” to see how many can be vaccinated.
That day, a free flu shot clinic will take place from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Carson City Senior Center.
“It’s an exercise to see how efficiently and effectively we can move people through,” Boothe said. “We’re testing to make sure our flow is right.”
The free vaccine clinic, in its fourth year here, will cost approximately $20,000, paid for with grant money, Boothe said.
One Carson resident who says she’ll be there is Martha Lopez.
Lopez, who works at Carson’s Wholesale Mortgage Services, said she has two very special reasons to get vaccinated.
“My kids,” she said. “They go to day care and I want to protect them as much as I can.”
Lopez said she’s already caught an early season strain of the flu and doesn’t want to see what happens if she waits any longer to be inoculated.
“My kids are my main concern, but it’s also about my coworkers,” she said. “Last week, I felt so awful. I had my warning – and I don’t want to get it again.”
Indeed, Tammy Hohenstein, an occupational health services supervisor for Gardnerville Carson Valley Medical Center, said she’s seen a “much higher number” of people coming in early for the flu vaccine.
“So far, we’ve given 400 flu vaccinations,” she said. “Usually our average for the year is 1,000. This year, we’re going to push 2,500.
“We even have mercury-free vaccines for pregnant women.”
The medical center is hosting clinics 9-11 a.m. every Wednesday through the end of the month. Area residents can also make an appointment.
“People can have a flu shot anytime they like,” Hohenstein said. “They just have to call us and make an appointment.”
The vaccination cost at the center is $25; free of charge to Medicare Part B patients.
While public health officials said traditionally it is older residents who are quick to get vaccinated – those statistics are shifting slightly.
“A lot of younger people who take care of older ones are getting vaccinated,” Hohenstein said. “People said, ‘I wanted to vaccinate because I take care of my grandparents.'”
Those leery of needles may also have a choice in Carson on Saturday, as the clinic plans to feature “Flu-Mist” which can be inhaled.
“We order (vaccine) from a few different manufacturers – one that can be inhaled,” Boothe said. “On Saturday, we hope to educate as well. Cover your cough. If you’re stick – stay at home and know when to get medical attention. Good personal hygiene and washing hands also helps.”
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at email@example.com or 881-1219.
Preventing the flu:
On the Net
Who should get vaccinated:
Everyone; but the young and old are most susceptible
Flu vaccine clinics:
• A free clinic is offered 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Carson City Senior Citizens Center, 901 E. Beverly Drive.
• A flu shot clinic is offered 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Wednesdays at the Carson Valley Medical Center, 1107 Highway 395 South in Gardnerville. Cost is $25, free for Medicare Part B patients.
Nationwide some 36,000 people die every year from the flu. Public health officials said morbidity in Northern Nevada is “traditionally very small.”
1191 S. Carson St., CC
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