Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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October 24, 2012

Cold weather often triggers runs on flu vaccines

Corsicana — With temperatures expected to drop roughly 30 degrees Thursday, cooler air may bring on thoughts of football, hot chocolate, fires in the fireplace — and flu season.

The Corsicana-Navarro County Public Health District at 618 N. Main has flu vaccines available, including the high-dose vaccine for seniors, and is administering the shots daily from 8 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m.

“Cold, wet weather doesn’t have anything to do with flu, but it’s when people start thinking about getting their flu shots,” said Emily Carroll, RN and director of the health department.

“Many companies that manufacture and ship out the vaccine recommend you start giving it upon receipt, which could be late August, September, but many physicians recommend getting it mid-October to mid-November. Usually, we tell people it’s really up to them. We have it available, but if your physician recommends getting it at a later time, they should follow their doctor’s orders.”

Patients may receive flu shots at their doctor’s offices, or at their pharmacy, so the health department scaled back its order of vaccines this year. However, traffic has been steady requesting flu shots.

“We have not had any reported cases of flu that I’m aware of, but if there have been cases, it just hasn’t been reported to the Health Department,” Carroll said.

The 2012-2013 vaccine contains protection against Influenza A-California H1N1, and another A-strain, Victoria, as well as two B strains: Texas and Wisconsin. The vaccine’s composition this year is slightly different than in years past.

Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, dry cough, headache and general malaise, and at times, are accompanied by nasal congestion. The first symptoms are the main ones people report.

The incubation period is one to four days, said Carroll, so after coming in contact with a person who has influenza, if you’re going to get it, it should happen within one to four days.

“Influenza is spread from person to person primarily by respiratory tract droplets created by coughing or sneezing,” she said. “Contact with respiratory tract droplet contaminated surfaces is another possible mode of transmission.

“Cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if you’re sick, wash hands frequently with antibacterial soap, and clean surfaces regularly with germicidal wipes, or any sort of germ-killing solution.”

The “high-dose” vaccine came out in recent years, and is specifically for senior citizens, whose immune systems and bodies are typically weaker. The high-dose vaccine was developed to help seniors make more antibodies in order to strengthen their bodies response against the flu. It is critical for seniors at greater risk of flu-related complications to have the high-dose vaccine.

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