Getting a jump on flu season

Getting a jump on flu season

September 3rd, 2010 by Emily Bregel in News

Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Sep 1, 2010 Vials of flu vaccine are photographed at the CVS Minute Clinic in Riverview.

Aiming to ward off a reprise of last year's H1N1 flu pandemic, health officials are pushing more people than ever to get a seasonal flu vaccination.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for almost everyone older than 6 months. Last year's pandemic of H1N1 - also known as swine flu - was unusual in that it hit healthy young adults, local doctors said.

"Last year, the swine flu really took a big hit on the people who didn't have antibodies to it and made healthy young people sick," said Dr. Nita Shumaker, a Chattanooga pediatrician.

She recommends that even healthy young people get the flu shot.

In a school setting, "if one kid get the flu, the likelihood everyone around them is gonna get the flu goes way up," she said.

LOCAL FLU SHOTS

* MinuteClinics at CVS - Offered on walk-in basis for an insurance co-pay or $29.95. Shots available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Labor Day.

* Walgreens - Store pharmacies are offering the flu shot during regular pharmacy hours for $29.99.

* Bi-Lo - The store will offer shots beginning in mid-September at some Chattanooga stores for $30 or $27 with a Bonus Card. Clinics will be listed on bi-lo.com.

WHO SHOULD NOT BE VACCINATED

* People with a severe allergy to chicken eggs or previous severe reaction to flu vaccine

* Children under 6 months

* People with moderate to severe illness and fever

* People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome after a previous flu vaccination

Source: CDC

Although public health departments in Chattanooga and North Georgia don't yet have their vaccine supply, flu shots are already available at Walgreens and MinuteClinics at CVS pharmacies.

Over the past five years, big-box stores, grocery store pharmacies and other retailers have aggressively marketed flu shots, Northwest Georgia Public Health spokesman Logan Boss said in an e-mail.

"From a public health perspective, this is wonderful. It helps create awareness of the flu season, makes it easier and more convenient for people to get their flu vaccinations," he said.

This year's vaccine protects against the H1N1, H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus, according to the CDC.

Flu vaccines take about two weeks to take effect, so family medicine specialists are recommending patients get the shot as soon as they can this season.