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Protect yourself, loved ones: Free flu vaccine clinic Wednesday

January 18, 2013


TACOMA, WA - In its continuing response to the level of flu circulating in the community, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department will host a second free flu vaccine clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 23, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the health department, 3629 S. D St.

The health department will offer free flu vaccine shots for uninsured adults up to age 64 and the nasal spray for children from six months to 18 years.

“It’s still not too late to get your flu shot,” said Nigel Turner, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s communicable disease division director. “Getting vaccinated ensures protection for you, and it helps to protect vulnerable people in our community such as infants, the elderly and immune-compromised individuals,” he said.

Approximately 200 people came to the health department last Wednesday, made possible by Pierce County Medical Reserve Corp volunteers. The clinics are only one way the health department promotes access to flu vaccine in Pierce County. In addition, it distributes vaccine through the Vaccine for Children Program, and has distributed 63,000 doses this season, of which 43,000 have been administered as of early January. Through the department’s partnership with Sanofi Pasteur, it also makes free vaccine available through pharmacies for low income adults.

For more information on the flu, to download an FAQ on the flu shot, and find free and low cost flu shot providers, visit www.tpchd.org/flu.

What to do about the flu
In addition to getting the flu shot, which is the single most important form of protection from the flu, other steps you can take to prevent or reduce the spread of the influenza virus include:

  • Wash your hands - Frequent and proper hand washing is one the most effective ways to reduce the spread of germs. Wash with soap and warm water, scrubbing all parts of your hands and wrists for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water isn’t easily accessible.
  • If you’re sick, stay home - Viruses such as the flu spread quickly. Don’t share your germs with coworkers and classmates.
  • Cover your cough - Use your elbow or a disposable tissue, not your hand, to cover your cough.
  • Keep it clean - Use sanitizing wipes or spray to clean counters, door knobs, telephone handsets, computer key boards and mice, and other surfaces that you frequently touch.

Important facts about the flu and you
Here’s a look at the flu’s impact, severity, and how the health department monitors flu activity:

The Puget Sound area, the state and nation are seeing the earliest arrival of flu season since 2003. The number of people coming down with the flu continues to rise and two Pierce County residents have died of the flu so far this year.

  • It’s important to get the flu shot annually. Each year, the formulation of the shot uses the three flu viruses that are expected to circulate that season. This season’s vaccine includes protection against two new viruses that are different from last season’s flu vaccine.

  • According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, if you get vaccinated with this season’s flu vaccine, you are about 62 percent less likely to need to go to the doctor to get treated for the flu. “This translates into a couple of things,” said Turner. “With the protection of the flu shot, you may not get sick, and if you do get sick, your symptoms will likely be less severe,” he said.

  • It’s impossible to predict the severity of any flu season, but the season usually begins in October and lasts through the end of April. In the Northwest, the flu typically begins to circulate in December and peak activity usually occurs between late January and March. Last year, flu activity did not peak until April.

  • Unlike pertussis, medical providers aren’t required to report cases of flu to a local health jurisdiction, so the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department monitors influenza activity through laboratory data, hospital emergency room and urgent care information, school absenteeism and other health surveillance methods. 

Contacts:
Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager, (253) 798-2853, ejeffers@tpchd.org
Claudia Catastini, Communicable Disease Asst. Division Director, (253) 798-2841, ccatastini@tpchd.org

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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