HCPHA launches flu vaccine program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2005

AHOSKIE – The Hertford County Health Authority provided flu shots for the elderly and people with health problems earlier this week.

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious disease which spreads from infected persons to the nose or throat of others. For most people, it lasts only a few days and can cause fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, muscle aches and fatigue.

However, some people get much sicker because the flu can lead to pneumonia and people with heart or breathing conditions are encouraged to get a flu shot.

There are two types of flu vaccine. One type is an inactivated (killed) vaccine, given as a shot. The flu shot has been used in the United States for many years. A live, weakened virus was licensed in 2003 and it is sprayed into the nostrils.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza viruses are constantly changing and the vaccine is updated every year. The vaccine will not prevent “influenza like” illnesses caused by other viruses.

The influenza vaccine takes about two weeks for protection to develop after the shot and the protection provided by the vaccine lasts up to a year.

People at high risk for complications from the influenza virus include children 6 n 23 months of age, people 65 years of age and older and residents of long-term care facilities housing persons with chronic medical conditions.

People who have long-term health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, metabolic disease, asthma or anemia are also vulnerable to influenza.

Influenza season usually peaks in February, but can peak any time from November through May.

Healthcare professionals advise anyone getting a flu shot to tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies. Although allergic reactions to the influenza vaccine are rare, people who are allergic to eggs should not get the vaccine and people who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting the flu vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide more information concerning flu and the flu vaccine at 1-800-232-4636 and www.cdc.gov/flu.