Frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with those who are sick certainly helps but, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccine each year.
Influenza and complications resulting from the virus kill an estimated 20,000 people each year, according to the CDC. Although rates of influenza vaccinations have increased in recent years, health surveys indicate that less than half of the high-risk population receives a yearly vaccine.
Influenza, or flu, is a highly contagious virus spread by inhaling droplets from an infected individual’s cough or sneeze. Most symptoms emerge within 24 to 48 hours and are characterized by fever, chills, sore throat, cough and headache. Just one infected person can unknowingly pass on the flu to family members and loved ones because the virus can be transmitted 24 hours before symptoms appear.
Those at an increased risk for influenza related complications:
• persons 65 years and older
• nursing home residents and other chronic care facilities
• adults and children with chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including children with asthma
• people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes
• those with blood diseases like sickle cell anemia, or impaired immunity.
Children and teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy and anyone working or living with someone in a high-risk category should get a flu shot every year.
The vaccine is usually given before the flu season. Individuals can receive the vaccine from their health care providers or at one of the free immunization clinics offered provided by Atlantic General Hospital and the Atlantic General Health System.
Since flu viruses mutate often, vaccines should be repeated each year. The vaccine is made from eggs. If you are allergic to eggs, consult with your health care provider.
As a service to our community’s health, Atlantic General Hospital/Health System annul flu shot clinics are FREE to the community. Individuals must be at least 13 years old to receive the vaccine at one of the free clinics.
This year the hospital and health system has scheduled the clinics as follows:
• Hospital Outpatient Services Lobby
o Wednesday, October 17, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
o Wednesday, October 24, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
o Wednesday, November 7, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
o Wednesday, November 14, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
• Taylor Bank
o Thursday, October 25, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
• Townsend Medical Center, 10th Street/Philadelphia Ave.
o Wednesday, October 24, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
• Holy Savior Church, 17th Street
o Wednesday, October 17, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Ocean View, DE
• Office of Dr. Barbara Socha, 96 Atlantic Avenue
o Saturday, October 13, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Must be at least 18 years of age to receive the vaccine at this clinic
• Pocomoke Fire Station
o Tuesday, October 23, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Hospital officials urge you to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to receive your flu shot. The flu vaccine, including the high dose vaccine for those 65 and older, became available at all Atlantic General Health System physician offices September 24, 2012.
For more information on the Atlantic General Hospital Free Flu Shot Clinics, contact Atlantic General Hospital at 410-641-9FLU (9358).
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