INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The first and most important step in protecting against influenza (flu) is to get a flu vaccination each season. This year the Washoe County Health District will begin providing flu immunizations on Monday, October 1, at 1001 East Ninth Street, Building B, in Reno.
Health officials here and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge everyone 6 months of age and older to get an annual flu vaccination to reduce your risk of illness, hospitalization, or even death, and to prevent you from spreading the virus to others.
Costs for flu vaccine at the Health District range from $16 for children to $28 for adults depending upon each individual’s health care coverage or eligibility for state-sponsored vaccine.
The Health District administers immunizations by appointment only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 8 a.m. and noon, and between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Call 775-328-2402 on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday between 8 a.m. and noon and between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to make an appointment.
Appointments can now be made up to a week in advance. The phone line will be open each Tuesday, Thursday and Friday until all appointment slots for the next week have been filled.
“While the flu can make anyone sick, some people are at an even greater risk for serious complications from the flu,” said Washoe County District Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser.
• Children aged 6 months- 4 years (59 months);
• People 50 years and older;
• People with chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
• People who are immunosuppressed (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus);
• Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
• Children aged 6 months to 18 years receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who therefore might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities;
• American Indians/Alaska Natives; and,
• People who are morbidly obese (body-mass index is 40 or greater).
In addition to persons at risk for developing serious complications from the flu, it recommended for people who have close contact with them to also get vaccinated to reduce the spread of the virus. This includes:
• Health-care personnel;
• Household contacts and caregivers of children aged younger than 5 years and adults aged 50 years and older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged younger than 6 months because they are too young to be vaccinated; and,
• Household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
According to Iser and the Washoe County Health District Epidemiology staff, most flu cases are seen in January and February in Northern Nevada.
Full vaccine effectiveness usually takes two weeks and lasts through the flu season, so now would be the most opportune time to get a shot.
The seasonal influenza vaccine viral strains in this year’s vaccine are A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like; A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like; and, B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like (Yamagata lineage) antigens.
Iser adds, “There are several other preventative measures that can keep flu at bay — like frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying at home when sick, which also reduces the risk of transmission. But, your best protection against the flu is to get a flu vaccination.”
More information on flu vaccines available and vaccine cost can be found at www.washoecounty.us/health/cchs/flu. A list of providers and community flu clinics can be found at www.influencenevada.org.