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Flu shots push starting early on High Desert

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Sep 30 2013 10:17:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 01 2013 04:01:45 PM CDT

Flu season's already knocking at the door, and public-health officials have already started their push to persuade you to get the vaccine. NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns talked with doctors Monday about the latest situation.

BEND, Ore. -

Flu season, here we come.

Sign after sign is out there, as health officials try to persuade you: Now is the time for the shot.

"A lot of people think of the flu as a nuisance or it's not very serious when in fact, every year, a lot of people do die from complications related to the flu," said Dr. Mattie Towle at Bend Memorial Clinic.

Influenza usually hits hardest in January and February, but the virus is always changing.

Pharmacies are already launching the vaccine because they want you to be immune to the flu before the season officially gets here.

"If you start early, people will go into that flu season with the immunity in place and you'll have a less severe flu season," Towle said.

"People are going to have a fever, the runny nose and congestion, sore throat, and usually there will be significant headache and body aches," explained Dr. Keith Harrington at Mountain Medical Immediate Care in Bend.

This year, Americans have the largest number of vaccine options to choose from: the regular shot; the nasal spray; a high-dose shot for those 65 and older; a tiny-needle shot for the squeamish; and an egg-free shot for those allergic to eggs, though that's not being offered in Deschutes County.

"The CDC is saying the risk to egg-allergic people is really low, and it may very well be safe for them to receive the regular shot," Towle said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccines for everyone age 6 months and older. Certain people are more susceptible to the disease than others.

"Children, elderly, the immune compromised and pregnant women are really the groups that need to get the flu shot," said Tom Kuhn at Deschutes County Health Services.

Doctors also suggest some time-honored ways to keep from spreading the flu or other illnesses: washing your hands, covering your mouth if you have a cough and avoiding public places if you're sick.

Getting vaccinated for the flu is not only about protecting yourself, but those around you.

"The more people we get immunized, the more effective it's going to work for the whole population," Harrington said.

Bend Memorial Clinic will be holding flu shot clinics in both Bend and Redmond for the upcoming flu season.

The clinics will be held Saturday October 5th and November 2nd from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Bend Memorial Clinic’s Eastside location at 1501 NE Medical Center Drive, Bend and Saturday October 19th from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Bend Memorial Clinic’s Redmond location at 865 SW Veterans Way.

Walk-ins are welcome and no appointment is necessary. The cost is $30 per shot and is billable to most insurance. The BMC flu shot clinic is open to anyone over the age of 3 years old.

For questions about the Flu Clinics, please call Bend Memorial Clinic at 541-382-2811.

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And here's Deschutes County's news release Tuesday on the coming flu season:

Flu season is here.  Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid catching the flu virus, and the best way to protect yourself and your community from illness. Here is the very latest flu information for you and your family.

WHO SHOULD RECEIVE FLU VACCINE? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone age 6 months and older should receive an annual influenza vaccination. Children 6 months through 8 years-old may need two doses depending on previous flu vaccine history, so it is important to talk to your health provider. A seasonal flu vaccination is especially recommended for people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, people living or caring for babies six months and younger, and all health care workers.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE BE VACCINATED? Each year, scientists determine the flu strains that are likely to cause the most disease and include them in the flu vaccination for that season.  People should get a flu vaccine every year to protect themselves.  Locally, flu season peaks in January and February but can begin as early as October and is unpredictable. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza, getting your vaccine as soon as it is available will help protect you throughout this flu season.

WHERE CAN I GET MY VACCINE? Flu vaccine is available through local health care providers as well as most pharmacies (for people 11 years and older). Deschutes County Health Services is also offering flu vaccine for children 6 months to 18 years old.  Call (541) 322-7400 to schedule a flu vaccine appointment for your child.

PREVENT GETTING THE FLU: In addition to vaccination, these preventive measures can help stop flu and other diseases·:

  1. 1. Cover your cough and sneeze.
  2. 2. Wash your hands often. Use soap and warm water.
  3. 3. Stay home when you’re sick. Protect others at school and work by staying home at least 24 hours after a fever (100+ degrees) subsides.
  4. 4. Clean surfaces often. Flu germs can live for hours on hard surfaces, especially where children are playing.

Each flu season is unique, but it is estimated that on average, approximately 5 percent to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for flu-related complications and about 36,000 Americans die on average, per year from flu complications.  For more information on influenza, visit www.flu.oregon.gov

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