Flu Hysteria

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Approximately three months ago, county health experts felt this was the year everyone could protect themselves from the flu.

But after dozens of deaths around the country, people scrambled to get vaccinated and a shortage of the vaccine occurred.

"There was a lot of media attention with the early deaths and the public opened up their eyes to how important it is to get vaccinated," said Duane Harmon, Ingham Visiting Nurse & Hospice.

On Tuesday, more than 500 people lined up outside the Ingham Visiting Nurse & Hospice and on Wednesday, more than 700 people waited for a flu shot. Although they closed the clinic on Thursday, office officials remain optimistic about their supply for next week.

"I don't anticipate running out over the weekend. We'll open again on Tuesday at 11am and stay open until 3:30pm or until we run out," said Harmon.

Meanwhile, the Ingham County Health Dept. is out of the flu shot, but what they do have is the FluMist.

Those between the ages of 5 and 49 and are in good health are eligible for it. This form of the vaccine is not covered by insurance, so you'll have to pay $52 out of pocket. Also available at the Health Department is a vaccine for children with chronic disease or those between six months to 23 months old.

Keep in mind no one was able to predict how high the demand for the flu vaccine would be, and now there's even less of a forecast for how long the supply will last.

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Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.
  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.
  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvac.htm ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)