people 6 months and older urged to get a
By William K. Alcorn
There is still time to roll up your sleeve.
Public health officials at the federal, state and local levels urge people 6 months and older to get the flu vaccination.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes a yearly flu vaccine as the “first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.”
Though the CDC recommends that people get a flu shot by the end of October, it is not too late to get the 2016 vaccine, said Erica Horner, director of the Nursing and Community Health Division of the Mahoning County District Board of Health.
Though seasonal influenza viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, they are most common during the fall and winter.
Usually, flu activity begins in October and most of the time peaks between December and March, according to the CDC.
Even though it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to build up protection, shots received will provide protection well before the traditional peak season, said Horner, who has been director since April 2016.
Horner, a 1992 graduate of Chaney High School and a 1997 recipient of a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Youngstown State University, was a public health nurse at with the Mahoning County health department from 2001 to 2010, and was an Ohio Department of Health field nurse/care manager for its Children with Medical Handicaps Program in charge of nine counties, including Mahoning and Trumbull counties. She is pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Kent State University.
Though not everyone is sold on the effectiveness, safety, and necessity of recommended vaccines, Horner said getting the flu vaccine is “absolutely” the right thing to do.
“It helps protect the individual and helps prevent the spread of the disease,” she said.
The county health department administered 1,390 flu shots from Sept. 1 through Nov. 9, compared with 1,590 immunizations during the same period in 2015.
However, Horner said, 220 people received the flu vaccine via nasal spray last year, compared with none in 2016 because the nasal spray is not offered this year.
People who are at-risk for contracting the flu, infants and children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic diseases such asthma and diabetes, should get the vaccine, Horner said.
The county health department is offering a flu shot clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9 at its headquarters, 50 West Chester Drive, Austintown.
No appointment is necessary and private insurances are accepted. Participants are asked to bring their insurance cards, driver’s licens, Medicare and Medicaid cards so the cost of the vaccine can be billed.
The cost of the shots are: Quadrivalent, four flu virus strains, $40; quadrivalant, four flu strains, short needle intradermal, $40; High dose trivalent (3 flu virus strains) for people 65 and over, $55.
Also, people can call the nursing division at 330-270-2855, ext. 121, and make an appointment for the flu vaccine; and the county’s public health nurses provide flu-shot clinics for businesses, agencies, schools and other organizatians, Horner said.