Flu season has returned as the fall transitions into winter. Influenza is spread from person to person and comes with many nasty and sometimes lethal symptoms which include fevers, body aches, malaise, headaches, runny noses and sore throats.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages six months and older get vaccinated for the flu virus. The influenza vaccine varies depending on age, allergies and application preference. The public also has the option to not to get vaccinated against the virus, even though it goes against health physician recommendations.
There are a few people who are especially susceptible to the flu virus: Pregnant women, children under five years old, seniors 65 years plus, and people with long-term health conditions. Additionally, people that are allergic to the flu shot should take extra precautions when getting their shot.
“Keep in mind the people that do have [allergies to the shot] should receive the flu vaccine in their doctor’s office and not a drug store, that way they can be monitored for any reactions,” said Kearah Cenotti, medical assistant at Kaiser Permanente Martinez Medical Center.
The flu shot is made from dead influenza virus cells and cannot spread the flu.
However, the nasal flu vaccine,FluMist, is made from weakened but live virus cells and may cause flu-like symptoms.
“Flu-mist is a live virus, the one that people get in their nose, but we don’t recommend it because it’s a live virus and it’s not as effective as the shot. But it’s still given because some people are afraid of needles and they have that option but we highly don’t recommend it,” said Michelle, Licensed Vocational Nurse at Kaiser Permanente Martinez Medical Center. “Plus you are limited to what vaccine is offered: standard and high-dose and it is only 20-30 percent effective and yet some people still choose it.”
Some people are still catching the flu despite the multiple ways to avoid contracting. There have been two deaths due to the influenza virus and levels of hospitalizations are within expected numbers, according to the California Department of Public Health’s report through Oct 14 to 20.
California State University, East Bay’s Student Health Services held a walk-in flu shot clinic between Oct. 30 and 31 at the Student Health Center on the Hayward campus. Flu shots were available to students, staff and faculty at a cost of $15 and supplies are limited.
Flu shots will be available at the Concord campus by appointment. There are more flu shot clinics planned in the spring semester. Flu shots are available at no cost with no co-pay through most healthcare providers and public health insurances. The flu shot is also covered if you are a Medicare Part B recipient.
Getting the flu shot is at local drug store is an option for those without insurance. They vary in price from $19.99 to $40.99, depending on location. The top three least expensive places to receive your flu shot are Costco ($19.99), CVS ($22) and Sam’s Club ($30).
The influenza vaccine does not guarantee protection against the flu but it does lower the chances in contracting it. People should take additional precautions to lower their risk, including those who received the vaccine. Washing your hands frequently, containing your coughs and sneezes when in public and avoiding crowds during flu peak season are all good suggestions.
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