The flu vaccine is for everyone | Guest column

by San juan county Health Department

An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and the flu-related complications that could lead to hospitalization and even death. Health experts across the country recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine.  This recommendation has been in place by the CDC since 2010.

While influenza isn’t particularly dangerous for most people, it can cause severe illness and serious complications for anyone, regardless of whether or not they have high risk conditions. When a person coughs, infected droplets get into the air and another person can breathe them in. The virus can also be spread by hands infected with the virus. Seasonal flu is characterized by a high fever, dry cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise, sore throat and runny nose. Most people recover from the flu within a week, but it can cause severe illness or death in those at high risk: children younger than age two, adults age 65 or older, people with certain medical conditions or weakened immune systems.

Among healthy adults, influenza vaccine can prevent 70-90 percent of flu-specific illness.  Among the elderly, the vaccine reduces severe illnesses and complications by up to 60 percent.

Three things to do

Dr. Frank James, San Juan County Health Department’s Health Officer, states, “First, get vaccinated. Almost everyone over six months of age should get a flu shot. It will protect against several different strains of the flu that circulate in the fall and winter each year. Second, take action to prevent the spread of the flu. Avoid contact with those who are sick, stay home if you are sick until 24 hours after your fever is gone, cover your cough, and wash your hands frequently. Third, if you do get the flu, see your doctor, who may prescribe antivirals.”


Upcoming flu shot clinics

• Oct. 11, Orcas Senior Center, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Oct. 23, Mullis Senior Center, 1 to 4 p.m.

• Oct. 31, Lopez Senior Center, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Schools in the San Juan County will be offering flu clinics to children and staff.  More adult Flu Clinic locations will be announced throughout the month of October.