By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
Last year, the flu season claimed 50,000 American lives, according to Suzanne Pate, Public Information Officer at the Snohomish Health District.
For the want of a simple immunization many of those lives might have been spared.
Flu as community health issue
Because the flu is easily passed from person to person, hundreds of people can become infected simply by riding the bus. Someone sneezes and forgets to wash his or her hands, then pushes a grocery cart. You come along and push the same grocery cart, and in an instant it can guarantee that you’ll be put to bed.
People with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away, according to the Center for Disease Control, which reports that; “…a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.”
That is why the health district reminds us to get flu shots, wash our hands and stay home if feeling ill.
The Snohomish Health District recommends getting a flu shot every year because the types of flu changes every year and so do the immunizations.
This year two immunizations are already available: The trivalent flu vaccine which protects against two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus, and the quadrivalent flu vaccine protecting against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
The immunizations are available in two forms, the traditional shot and a nasal spray.
Where can I get the vaccine?
You can call the pharmacy or ask your doctor which immunization you should get, or visit http://flushot.healthmap.org/recommendations/, fill in the information and get results for your particular needs.
Flu shots are available now at the following locations:
Snohomish Health District, Everett: 3020 Rucker Ave., Ste. 108, Everett. Hours: Mon., Wed. and Fri., 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Closed from noon- 1 p.m.). (425) 339-5220.
Snohomish Health District, Lynnwood: 6101 200th St. S.W., Ste. 100, Lynnwood. Hours: Tue. and Thurs., 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Closed from noon- 1 p.m.). (425) 775-3522.
Albertsons Sav-On Pharmacy: 19881 U.S. 2., Monroe. (360) 794-5870.
Safeway Pharmacy: 19651 U.S. 2, Monroe. (360) 794-9644.
Rite Aid: 18906 U.S. 2, Monroe. (360) 794-0943.
Fred Meyer Pharmacy: 18805 U.S. 2, Monroe. (360) 805-8133.
Call ahead to find out how much the flu shot costs. The charges can vary greatly. Or ask the pharmacy if your health insurance will pay for it. If you are sick and have a fever wait until your fever is gone before getting a flu shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect and protect you against influenza. That is why you are urged to get the shot as early as possible, before the flu season is at its height.
This month is a good time to get the shot.
Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is safe, but there can be side effects.
Some mild side effects of the flu shot may include soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site, and fainting (mainly in adolescents), as well as headaches, fever or nausea.
Some mild side effects of the nasal spray may be a runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, mild muscle aches or fever.
More serious side effects can begin within a few minutes or a few hours of the flu shot. They may include difficulty breathing, hoarseness, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, paleness and weakness, racing heart, dizziness, behavior changes or a high fever. If any of the serious signs occur, get help immediately.