Flu vaccinations are available from Garfield County Public Health

September 13, 2010

As another unwelcome flu season approaches, the good news is that this year’s flu vaccines administered by Garfield County Public Health (GCPH) will protect against H1N1 as well as two other flu strains – all in one shot. And, now the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that practically everyone in the community be vaccinated.

While last year’s H1N1 pandemic resulted in an earlier flu season, this year’s season is expected to be more typical.” Colorado has not yet started seeing influenza cases,” said Laurel Little, nurse manager for Garfield County.” But we do expect H1N1 to be one of the circulating strains throughout our communities this year.”

The health department will vaccinate people at Downtown Drug in Glenwood Springs from 10 am-2 pm on October 27, at the Rifle and Glenwood Public Health offices, from 8 am-4 pm October 28, at Ace Hardware in Carbondale and Fred’s Hardware in Rifle, from 10 am-2 pm on October 30 and at the Glenwood Springs Community Center and Rifle City Hall voting stations from 3 pm-7 pm on November 2.

This year’s recommendation from the CDC is that everyone six months of age and older receive a flu shot. But as always, it is especially important for infants, young children and adults over 65 years of age, pregnant women, household members of infants under six months, and anyone with a chronic medical condition to get vaccinated.

The virus strains in the injectable influenza vaccine are inactivated so they cannot cause the flu, but the vaccine can cause mild side effects, usually soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, in some people. FluMist (an intranasal flu vaccine for healthy people 2-49 years of age) is made from weakened viruses and does not cause influenza either. In children, minor side effects can include runny nose or mild temporary wheezing. Occasionally headache, vomiting, muscle aches, or fever have also been reported. In adults, minor side effects can include runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough low-grade fever, and aches. If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually last one or two days.

“Protecting yourself protects the whole community,” said Little. “We recommend getting vaccinated soon, as the vaccine takes a couple of weeks to afford maximum protection, which will then last throughout the flu season, well into the spring. “Flu outbreaks traditionally begin as early as mid-October, but typically the heaviest activity is in December and January.”

Partial supply is already on hand at Garfield County and arriving weekly, with more shipments expected through November. This year GCPH will not offer a new high-dose version that is being promoted for seniors 65 years and older.” Studies have shown seasonal vaccine to be 70-90% effective for most people under 65, and slightly less than that for those 65 and older,” said Little.” We have no data yet on the high-dose vaccine, but people over 65 can check with their doctors for availability if they are interested in receiving it.”

People who should NOT be vaccinated include:

People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs,

People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination,

People who have developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine,

Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and

People who have a moderate to severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated).

Vaccination is an important key to reducing the spread of influenza in our community, but there are other simple measures that are also very important. These include frequent handwashing, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, staying home when ill, and taking good care of yourself through a healthy diet, exercise, and adequate rest.

Contact: Garfield County Public Health offices are located at 2014 Blake Avenue, Glenwood Springs, phone (970) 945-6614 and 195 W. 14th, Rifle, phone (970) 625-5200. Please call these numbers for more information.

Flu information