Seasonal flu vaccine has arrived

Published 6:58 am Thursday, September 23, 2010

The wait is over—the seasonal flu vaccine has arrived in county health departments throughout Southwest Health District and is now being offered in both nasal mist and injectable form.

“We’re happy to be able to offer the seasonal influenza vaccine earlier than usual this year and also to offer a choice of seasonal flu vaccine for the first time,” said Southwest Health District Health Director Jacqueline Grant.

“Seasonal influenza vaccination is the most important way of preventing seasonal flu and potentially severe complications, including death,” she said. “Seasonal influenza vaccination reduces the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza or transmitting influenza to others.”

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The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation is that everyone six months old and older be vaccinated against seasonal influenza, unless their health care provider indicates otherwise, said Grant.

However, Grant noted that individuals must be healthy and between the ages of 2 and 49 to receive FluMist, which is the nasal spray form of the vaccine. It contains weakened live viruses.

“The CDC is also encouraging everyone to go ahead and get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available,” she said. “Research shows the protection will last throughout the flu season.”

Flu season typically arrives in Southwest Georgia in the fall and peaks in February.

The flu vaccine costs $25 per dose. County health departments will bill Medicare, Medicaid, PeachState, WellCare and AmeriGroup and state health benefit plans of United Healthcare and Cigna.

This year’s flu formula protects against the Pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus (the seasonal vaccine always contains an H1N1 strain), an A-H3N2 strain and a B-Brisbane strain.