Health News

Samish Public Health News Release

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The 2013-2014 Influenza Vaccine

    As a reminder to Samish Tribal Members:  It’s that time of the year again – flu season has begun!  And, the first and best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from influenza is by getting the flu vaccine.  You can get your yearly influenza immunization from your health-care provider, at your local pharmacy, grocery store, senior center, place of work, walk in clinic or public health department.  The American Lung Association’s flu shot locator at http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/influenza/flu-vaccine-finder/ is a great tool for finding a vaccine in your area.  Or, you can access your local health department by logging on to http://www.doh.wa.gov/AboutUs/PublicHealthSystem/LocalHealthJurisdictions.aspx. You can also call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

 

What is the Flu?

Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract affecting the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu virus spreads from person to person mainly in respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or by contact.  You can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick.  Common flu symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, chills, aches and fatigue.  The influenza virus can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases can lead to death.  For example, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and up to 49,000 may die each year due to seasonal flu-related complications.

 

How Can I Protect Myself and Prevent the Spread of Flu?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive the influenza vaccine.  This is the single best way to protect against the flu.  Other common flu prevention strategies include frequent hand washing with soap and water (scrub for at least 20 seconds) or use alcohol based sanitizers, cover the nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, omit touching the eyes, nose and mouth, try to avoid close contact with sick people, and stay home while ill for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medications.  Another way to combat the flu virus includes building up the immune system and keeping it strong.  Good health habits to consider are drinking plenty of fluids, getting extra sleep and rest, exercising regularly, managing stress and eating a well-balanced nutritious diet with plenty of protein.

 

Types of Flu Vaccine for 2013-2014:

New vaccine options are available for the 2013-2014 flu season.  The traditional influenza vaccine that protects against three different flu viruses called Trivalent Vaccines.  In addition, this season certain vaccines will protect against four different flu viruses called Quadrivalent Vaccines.

 

The Trivalent Flu Vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus.  The following Trivalent flu vaccines are available:

  •     The standard dose Trivalent shot (regular flu shot) approved for everyone 6 months of age or older.
  •         A standard dose Trivalent shot containing virus grown in cell culture.
  •     A standard dose Trivalent shot that is egg-free approved for people 18 through 49 years of age.
  •     A high-dose Trivalent shot for people 65 and older which quadruples protection.
  •     A standard dose intradermal Trivalent shot injected into the skin rather than the muscle using a much smaller needle.

The Quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.  The following Quadrivalent Flu Vaccines are available:

  • A standard dose Quadrivalent influenza shot approved for people 3 years of age and older.
  • A standard dose Quadrivalent flu vaccine given as a nasal spray approved for healthy people 2 years of age through 49 years of age.

The following individuals should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine.   They should get the flu shot instead:  1) Children less than 2 years of age.  2) Adults 50 years of age or older.  3) Individuals with certain chronic medical conditions especially respiratory illnesses such as lung disease or asthma.  4)  Anyone with a weakened immune system; and, 5) Pregnant women.

The CDC strongly recommends that individuals get vaccinated every year.  This is because your body’s level of immunity from the flu vaccine often declines over time.

If you have any questions about the type of influenza vaccine that is appropriate for you, your health care provider can help you decide upon the best course of action.

 

Who Should Receive the Flu Vaccine this Season?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccination this season.  It is also especially important for high risk groups to get vaccinated.  These groups consist of adults 65 years of age and older; Children less than 5 years old;   pregnant women (Note:  Pregnant women should get vaccinated against the flu as soon as possible.  The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby from the flu);  People of any age who have certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease;  Anyone with a weakened immune system;  People who live in nursing facilities and other chronic care facilities;  People who have close contact with those at high risk for flu complications or close contact with babies under 6 months of age – too young to receive the flu vaccine;  Health care professionals;  and, American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are more likely to get seriously ill from the flu compared to the general United States population.

Who Should Not Get an Influenza Vaccine?

There are specific individuals who should not receive the flu vaccine without first consulting with their health care provider.  These people include:  Children who are less than 6 months of age;  People who have had a severe reaction to a past influenza vaccination,  Individuals who have previously developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome; and, People who are ill with a fever should postpone vaccination until after the fever is gone.

It is best to speak to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about receiving the flu vaccine.

 

Other Concerns

The cost of the flu vaccine is generally covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as by many insurance providers and by Samish Contract Health.  If you are getting a flu vaccination at a pharmacy, you can now use your Samish ID card with the NWPS sticker on the back.  However, if you are getting the flu vaccine directly from your health care provider or at a clinic, please contact Samish Contract Health Services in advance for payment approval.

 

The information in this report has been compiled from the CDC and various other relevant government agencies and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health-care provider.

 

For more information about Seasonal Influenza (Flu), please contact: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/index.htm or www.flu.gov

Or call 800-CDC-INFO

 

Mitch Markovich, RN

Samish Public Health Services

Fall 2013