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Flu vaccinations now available

Flu is a misunderstood disease.

Commonly associated with upset stomach and vomiting, influenza seldom causes either.

Fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headache and muscle aches are symptoms caused by influenza – “the flu.” A healthy person usually recovers from the sickness in two or three days, but for high risk people, the disease can be fatal.



“Individuals over the age of 65 and those who are seriously ill can die from flu, or they’re hospitalized,” said Allyson Tabor, El Dorado County Public Health Department nurse epidemiologist. “The rest of us just stay home for a couple of days.”

High risk people include those with heart, lung or kidney disease, asthma, metabolic disease such as diabetes, and anemia or other blood disorders. Anyone with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, long-term treatment with drugs such as steroids or cancer treatments using X-rays or drugs are considered high-risk.




More than 200,000 people die each year of influenza, but the disease can be prevented through vaccination.

Though it usually holds its own flu shot clinic, due to a shortage of vaccine, the health department will work with the Community Flu Shot Program, in conjunction with Barton Memorial Hospital.

“We’re working with Barton this year,” Tabor said. “For the past few months, we’ve been told there is a shortage of vaccine. We’ll still have our own clinics but not as early as usual.”

Because the viruses that cause influenza change so often, the vaccine is updated every year, replacing at least one vaccine virus. Out of three major flu viruses included in this year’s vaccine, one did not grow fast enough, slowing production.

“There isn’t any reason to panic,” Tabor said. “The shortage is due to a slow-growing flu organism. Eventually (the health department) will get the vaccine. We’re just about a month behind. Barton has already received theirs so they’re going to go ahead and start their clinics.”

High risk patients will be given the vaccine first. Low risk people are asked to wait to get the shot until new shipments come in.

“When we get the rest of the vaccine we’ll do the lower risk people,” Tabor said. “We want people to restrain themselves and leave these clinics for high-risk people. Low-risk individuals can get vaccinated in about a month, so we’ll look forward to doing that in November. We anticipate there’s going to be enough for everybody, but it’s just going to be a month later. We just want to get the high-risk people vaccinated first.”

Tabor recommends all people over the age of 50 get vaccinated when the new shipment comes in.

BREAKOUT:

The Barton Memorial Hospital Flu Team’s mobile unit will give flu vaccinations Oct. 17 at the following locations and times:

n The Attic at 980 Lodi Ave. from 8 to 11 a.m.

n The Senior Center at 3050 Lake Tahoe Blvd. from noon to 2 p.m.

n Tahoe Bowl at 1030 Fremont Ave. from 3 to 5 p.m.

For information, call Barton’s HealthCare Hotline at (530) 542-3000, ext. 3380 or contact Allyson Tabor at the El Dorado County Public Health Department at (530) 573-3155.


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