Health department encourages public to get flu shots

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Experts at the Jackson County Health Department and Schneck Medical Center are encouraging the public to get flu vaccinations now.

While no cases have been reported yet in the county, the Indiana State Department of Health said it is already seeing cases pop up across the state.

Influenza is a contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is spread by respiratory droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby, or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with those infectious respiratory droplets.

People also may become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza virus and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose. 

Lin Montgomery, public health coordinator with the Jackson County Health Department, said it takes two weeks for the vaccination to reach full strength in the body, and people need to start getting their shots now.

"This is a pretty typical time for us to start seeing (the flu)," Montgomery said. "We want people to start thinking about what they can do to prevent the flu the first of October and definitely have their shot completed by the end of October."

Stacy East, an infection preventionist at Schneck Medical Center, said getting vaccinated now can make a difference by the time the season reaches its peak in January and February.

"You can get ahead of it," East said. "It takes a couple weeks for the vaccine to work in your body. We want it to work throughout the whole season. The flu can be deadly to some individuals. We want to make sure as many people as possible get it to decrease the risk for everybody."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year.

In Indiana, there were 113 influenza-associated deaths last year, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Among those deaths, 79 were age 65 and older. 

Both Montgomery and East said there were no flu deaths locally during that time span.

"We did not have any (flu-related) deaths at the hospital last year," East said. "We do see them occasionally. It wasn’t a rough year last year. We had an easier year as far as the flu. The year before, 2017 into 2018, was pretty rough."

The health department now has flu shots available.  The cost of the flu shot remains the same this year, $32, with most insurances covering the cost of the vaccine.

In 2018-19, the local health department administered 1,082 flu vaccines, up from 966 during the previous flu season.

The health department has flu vaccines available in standard-dose and high-dose forms. High-dose is intended for people 65 or older, and contains four times the amount of antigen compared to the standard dose and creates a stronger immune response with better protection.

The mist vaccine is available again this year, but not at the health department. To ensure proper vaccination with the mist, consult your health care provider.

Last year’s influenza season in the United States was of moderate severity and lasted 21 weeks.

When parents bring their children to the health department for a flu shot, they also can get the school-required vaccines. The type of shots needed depends upon the child’s grade level.

A drive-thru flu clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 18 also will be held at the health department, 801 W. Second St., Seymour.  During that time, people also may drop off unwanted or unused medications.

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What: Drive-thru flu clinic

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 18

Where: Jackson County Health Department, 801 W. Second St., Seymour

Who: Those 6 months of age and older are encouraged to receive a flu vaccine

Cost: $32, but most insurances cover it

Also: People can drop off unwanted or unused medications that day

Get the shot now: If you don’t want to wait for the drive-thru clinic, call 812-522-6667 to set up an appointment to get a flu shot now

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