Flu Season Is Here

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

"If i see someone coughing or sneezing without covering, I stay away." Larry Hoggard is like most people. It may seem extreme but if you're getting sick, Marcus Cheatham of the Ingham County Health Department advises: "The most important thing is to stay away from people."

We don't live in a bubble so avoiding all contact isn't gonna work ---- but we can try to minimize it.

"People often don't think about what they're doing to other people when they go in and spread the flu to them," said Cheatham.

The flu activity is relatively low in michigan right now but Cheatham says a few cases have already popped up. And according to google's flu trends --- people are starting to do more online searches for medicines and flu advice from the Centers for Disease Control. But he says the health department is hopeful that the flu vaccine will be very effective this year.

And that's a positive sign hinting that when it comes to getting flu vaccines, this year is going to be a little different than last. Cheatham says the health department will have a larger dosage available than in years past. So that means no waiting for your priority group.

"They're saying there's enough for everybody. People in high risk groups can get it and there's still plenty for everyone else."

Some people with comprised immune systems, those who are pregnant or have diabetes, for example can get anti-viral medication from their doctors. But Cheatham warns, it is not a good idea to get the medication if you are otherwise healthy.

"Someday we're going to have a pandemic like H1N1 only it'll be a lethal virus, it will really be killing people. And we're going to want those anti-virals to be effective and if we overuse them now, the flu will develop a resistance to those anti-virals and then we won't have them when we need them."

If you're already feeling the sick symptoms -- the same seasonal tips apply --- hand washing, sanitizer, cough into your sleeve, --- but if you're thinking about stocking up on the Vitamin C and Echinacea you might want to reconsider.

"I'm sorry to say but the large scale clinical trials don't show [Vitamin C and Echinacea] to be as effective against the flu," said Cheatham. "Get your shot, stay home if you're sick, lots of fluids and bed rest. Those are the things that work."

The flu will spread as it usually does but getting vaccinated could put you one step ahead.

Vaccines are already available at most pharmacies. The Ingham County Health Department starts is first round of flu clinics on Monday, October 4, 2010. The times are as follows:

Monday, Oct. 4, 2010
9:30-11:30a and 1:00-4:30p
Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010
9:30-11:30a and 1:00-6:00p
Monday, Oct. 11, 2010
9:30-11:30a and 1:00-4:30p
Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010
9:30-11:30a and 1:00-6:00p

The mass clinis will be located at: Ingham County Health Department, 5303 S. Cedar St., Lansing.

There are special waivers for the elderly and uninsured.

For those in Jackson County, the health departmen will have clinics on the following dates and times:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010
4:00 - 7:00p
Saturday, October 16, 2010
9:00a - 2:00p

All Jackson clincs will be held at the Jackson County Health Department, 1715 Lansing Avenue, Jackson Conference Room 005, Off Parking Lot A.

Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances will be billed during the Jackson County clinics only so please bring insurance cards. If you must pay out of pocket, the cost i $30.00. VFC vaccine will not be offered at these clinics.

For more information just click on the links below.


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