Health News

Samish Public Health News Release

Flu Activity Continues to Remain High Nationwide

Cases of Influenza Illness Increasing in Washington State and Skagit County

There is still time to get the Flu Vaccine!

 

The CDC is reporting that the 2014-2015 flu season continues to be quite nasty.  Flu activity is high and widespread and will likely continue for several more weeks.  This year, the predominate strain is H3N2 Influenza A.  Flu seasons where H3N2 is dominant tend to be harsher and more severe than other seasons.  The H3N2 strain is also not as well matched to this year’s vaccine.  This is because the virus mutated after the vaccine was developed and, as a result, the H3N2 strain may be only 20% to 25% effective.  Still, health officials are strongly urging everyone over the age of 6 months to get vaccinated to help boost immunity and lessen symptoms.  Also, the vaccine provides protection against flu strains that are not predominant now but may show up later; and, vaccination remains the most effective way to protect against the flu and its complications.

Because the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine has waned as a result of the H3N2 strain drift, health care agencies are recommending the use of antiviral medications, where indicated, for the treatment and prevention of influenza.  If you become sick with the flu, talk to your healthcare provider about beginning treatment with an antiviral mediation such as Tamiflu or Relenza.  This is especially important for all persons with flu-like illness who are at high risk for complications from the flu such as those with weakened immune systems.  They should seek care promptly to determine if treatment with antiviral medications is appropriate.

The flu is serious – particularly for those under 5 years of age, older than 65, pregnant women and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, respiratory disorders and weakened immune systems.

The flu vaccine is available by shot and by nasal spray.  The nasal spray is approved in healthy persons 2 through 49 years of age, who are not pregnant.

The flu vaccine protects you and your loved ones – especially infants and young children – from getting the flu; and the vaccine is needed each year since flu viruses can change.

Common prevention strategies include:  Washing hands frequently with warm water and soap (at least 20 seconds) and/or use alcohol based hand sanitizers, cover your cough and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, exercise regularly, manage stress, eat nutritious foods, avoid close contact with sick people, stay home when you are sick and check with your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.

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.

To find a flu vaccine in your area: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/influenza/flu-vaccine-finder/ or http://flushot.healthmap.org/?address

For Seasonal Flu information: www.flu.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

 

If You Haven’t Already Done So, There’s Still Time to Get the Flu Vaccine!

Samish Public Health Services

Mitch Markovich, RN

January 2015

The 2014-2015 Seasonal Flu Vaccine:

It Works to Keep You and Those Around You Healthy!

    As a reminder to Samish Tribal Members, there’s still time to get your flu vaccine!  Getting vaccinated now is the first and single best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and the community from the seasonal flu.

The Flu is a serious highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that can lead to infection and pneumonia especially in vulnerable people with weakened immune systems including pregnant women, babies and young children and Elders.  The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older receive the flu vaccine.  Good health habits such as washing hands, covering coughs and staying home when sick are other important ways to prevent the flu.  Boosting the immune system by drinking plenty of fluids, getting extra sleep, exercising regularly and eating a healthy balanced nutritious diet are also important preventative measures.

This year’s flu vaccine provides protection against the same flu viruses as last year.  The traditional trivalent vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus.  In addition, the quadrivalent vaccine protects against four types of flu virus and is available as a shot or nasal spray.  This year, the CDC recommends use of the quadrivalent nasal spray vaccine for healthy children 2 to 8 years of age provided there are no contradictions to the vaccine.  There is a high dose vaccine for our Elders which quadruples protection.  There are egg protein-free vaccines for those with egg allergies.  For those who don’t like large needles, there is an intra-dermal vaccine delivered with a micro needle under the skin.  Should you have questions about the type of flu vaccine that is appropriate for you, your health care provider can help you decide upon the best course of action.

The body’s immunity to flu viruses often declines over time.  So, it is important to get the flu vaccine every flu season.  The flu vaccine is safe.  You can’t get the flu from the vaccine because the virus in the vaccine is either killed or weakened.

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 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.

To find a flu vaccine in your area: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/influenza/flu-vaccine-finder/ or http://flushot.healthmap.org/?address

For Seasonal Flu information: www.flu.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

 

Keep Indian Country and your Community Healthy: Get the Flu Vaccine!

 

Mitch Markovich, RN

Samish Public Health Services

November 2014