Flu vaccinations for 2010: They are for everyone
Q: How should we prepare for the upcoming flu season?
A: The best defense against flu continues to be vaccination, and preparation consists of getting a flu vaccination as well as practicing conscientious hand washing and sneeze etiquette. The current vaccine is trivalent (containing three different vaccine viruses). This is good news because it streamlines immunization, requiring most people to receive only one vaccination.* The strains contained in the 2010-2011 vaccine are:
1. A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2), different from last year.
2. B/Perthy/60/2008-like strain, the same as last year.
3. 2009 H1N1-like strain, same as last year.
Until last season, the flu predictably took its biggest toll on folks 65 and older. The 2009 H1N1 virus behaved differently: Most of the damage was done to the under 65 crowd, in which 95 percent of the deaths took place.
With any strain of flu, complications can be very serious for babies under 6 months of age, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions. To protect these groups, we must vaccinate their household members and close contacts, as well as health-care providers.
The World Health Organization has declared the 2009 H1N1 pandemic over, claiming that the virus has “largely run its course.” They predict that H1N1 will now “take on the behavior of a seasonal virus and continue to circulate for some years to come.”
Although H1N1 will probably behave like seasonal flu this year, it’s anyone’s guess what will actually happen because influenza is :a notoriously unpredictable virus,” claim flu experts.
In short, everyone is at risk because the flu is a miserable, potentially lethal illness that is best avoided by all. Hence, the current recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that all people 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccination.
Flu vaccination should begin as soon as the vaccine is available and continue throughout the flu season. Late summer is not too early to be vaccinated as the protection will last throughout the season, in which activity typically peaks in January.
There is no reason for the public to have elevated concerns over vaccine safety. Last year, had the H1N1 virus been identified earlier, it would have been included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There has probably been more surveillance and research into H1N1 vaccine than any other flu vaccine.
This year, manufacturers project that they will supply about 170 million doses, and a substantial amount of that will be available by the end of September.
Thursday is Immunization Day at Carson City Health and Human Services (see hours below), and flu vaccine will be available for a nominal fee as soon as shipments of vaccine arrive.
The CDC recommends 2 doses of influenza vaccine for children younger than 9 who are being vaccinated against flu for the first time. Babies under 6 months of age are not recommended to receive flu vaccinations.
Carson City Health and Human Services
Clinic Hours: Monday-Wednesday and Friday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by appointment
900 East Long St.
Thursday is Immunization Day
8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m.
No appointment needed
Check out our new website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us on Facebook.
• Pam Graber is the public information officer at Carson City Health and Human Services. Reach her at 775-283-7906 or firstname.lastname@example.org.