Departments reduce cost of flu vaccine

Published 2:33pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Flu activity remains high throughout Southwest Health District, whose 14-county health departments began offering vaccine at the reduced rate of $15 per dose Tuesday in hopes of getting more of the population protected, says Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

“This is peak flu season in Southwest Georgia, and it is an active flu season,” Grant said. “Hospitalizations are down from earlier in the season, which is a good thing. But there is certainly still a lot of flu activity out there.”

Further, influenza will continue to circulate in the district in the coming weeks, she cautioned.

“We typically see flu cases continue to pop up until spring, so it is definitely not too late to get a flu shot,” Grant said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a seasonal flu vaccination for everyone six months and older. Those most at risk for complications from flu—and who are therefore most strongly recommended to get flu vaccinations—include the following:

• Children 6 months through 18 years old;

• People 50 years old and older;

• People with chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma;

• People living in nursing homes or long-term care homes;

• Women who are pregnant;

• Healthcare providers.

Also, people can decrease their chances of getting or spreading the flu by the following:

• Staying home when sick and keeping sick children home;

• Washing hands often with soap or using hand sanitizer;

• Covering coughs and sneezes.

The populations hardest hit by flu in Southwest Georgia are children and young people, Grant said.

“We are seeing flu `hot spots’ pop up in childcare facilities and schools,” she said. “We want to stress to parents in particular the importance of getting their children vaccinated against influenza.”

To learn more, go online to www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org or contact your local county health department.

Carolyn Maschke is a risk communications/public information officer with the Georgia Health District 8, Unit 2 in Albany, Ga. She can be reached by calling (229) 430-1969 or e-mailing her at cwmaschke@dhr.state.ga.us.

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