Now that the weather is feeling more like winter some of you may not have thought about receiving a flu vaccination until now. It is NOT too late! With the holiday season upon us, that means shopping and traveling, which means being exposed to more people and more germs. In general, anyone who want to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated, however certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk, have had serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. A flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
There are many benefits of receiving the flu vaccine. A few of the benefits are:
- The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations, including among children and older adults.
- Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
- The vaccine helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting vaccinated can also protect a baby after birth from the flu. (Mom passes antibodies onto the baby during the pregnancy.)
- A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0403-flu-vaccine.html
- Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.
- Getting yourself vaccinated also protects people around you that are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.
It takes about two weeks to build your immunity after receiving a flu vaccination. A flu vaccination does not guarantee protection against the flu; it will however help to reduce your flu symptoms if you happen to get influenza. No vaccination is 100% effective and people who get vaccinated may still get sick. Those that receive a flu vaccination are less likely to get the flu or be hospitalized from the flu compared to someone who is unvaccinated. Studies show that the flu vaccine reduces doctor visit due to the flu by 50%-60% in the overall population.
It is important for high risk individuals to get vaccinate to reduce the risk of hospitalization due to severe flu complications. The following are health and age factors that are known to increase a person's risk of getting serious complications from the flu if not vaccinated:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks post-partum)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long term care facilities
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
People who have medical conditions including:
- Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
- Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
- Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease
- Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
- Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
- Kidney/Liver disorders
- Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
- Weakened immune system (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
- People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- People who are morbidly obese.
If you believe you are experiencing flu symptoms please contact your primary care provider, especially important for those that are high risk.
The Kiowa County Public Health office is still offering flu vaccinations as well as both pneumonia vaccinations to those that wish to get vaccinated. The next available clinic to receive a flu vaccination is Friday, January 5, so if you would like to schedule an appointment, contact Andrea Morgan at the Kiowa County Public Health Office, 719-438-5782.