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Protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu

October 21, 2015

Learn, get resources to stay flu free in the 253

It's more than a bad cold. Protect yourself, your loved ones and those around you. Get your flu shot today. Learn more about how you can stay flu free in the 253 at www.tpchd.org/flu.


TACOMA, Wash. –
Last flu season was the most severe since health officials have tracked the disease’s local impact. In Pierce County, a record 25 people experienced a flu-related death between October 2015 and May 2015. People over 65 accounted for the majority of the hospitalizations and deaths, but one child also died from flu-related causes.

During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, 13 people died from flu-related causes.

Paired with pneumonia, it’s one of the top 10 killers in the United States, where between 3,000 to 50,000 people die and 200,000 people are hospitalized.

“Flu is an especially serious illness for the very young, the elderly, and people who have other health conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease or pregnant women,” said Denise Stinson, public health nurse with Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “But healthy, younger people can also become quite sick with the flu, and sometimes, they die from it,” she said.

Stinson warns that some flu seasons are worse than others, and it’s not possible to predict the severity of a flu season. “What we can predict is that the flu will come,” she said. “We are already seeing a few cases, so it’s time to get ready.”

Stinson urges people to get their flu shot now and remember some simple prevention steps.

Who should get the flu shot?

Everyone over the age of 6 months should get vaccinated against flu every season, except people who have had a very severe reaction to flu vaccine in the past. Each year, the flu vaccine is formulated to best match the strains that are predicted to be circulating. This season, a new influenza A strain and a new influenza B strain are represented in the vaccine. Children under age 9 need to get two flu vaccines if they haven’t had a total of two flu vaccines in their lifetime.

Where can I get a flu shot?

Flu vaccines are available at your health care provider office and at most local pharmacies. Several products are available including:

  • Trivalent—Protects against two influenza A and 1 influenza B viruses.
  • Quadrivalent—Protects against two flu A and two flu B viruses.
  • Nasal spray, live-attenuated vaccine—(FluMist®)—For healthy, non-pregnant people age 2-49.
  • Recombinant (RIV3, FluBlok®)—Egg free vaccine licensed for people over age 18.
  • Intradermal vaccine (Fluzone Intradermal®)—A very short needle delivers a small amount of vaccine just under the skin.
  • High Dose (Fluzone High-Dose®)—For people age 65 and older, it has four times the amount of antigen as standard dose and may offer better protection for seniors.
Just for Kids

Getting a flu vaccine is always more effective than not getting one. The flu vaccine works best in children and healthy people. That means if more kids and healthy people get vaccinated, we boost community immunity and help protect our seniors, babies, and people with health problems.

The Health Department ensures many children receive the flu vaccine through school-based clinics. By mid-November, Department, in partnership with the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps, will have helped to vaccinate 2,500 children at 31 clinics in five Pierce County school districts.

Flu vaccine for children is also available through health care providers and through CHI Franciscan Health’s Children’s Immunization Services and Mary Bridge Mobile Immunization Services. Learn more at www.tpchd.org/immunizations.

Prevent the Spread of Flu

Flu spreads fast at school, so immunizing school kids protects their families, too. People of all ages should follow these simple steps to prevent the flu from spreading at home, work, school or play:

  • Keep your hands clean— Flu viruses can live up to 24 hours on hard surfaces that you might touch. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, scrubbing for 20 seconds. When soap and water aren’t available, use alcohol hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes—Use your elbow to cover.
  • Stay home when you’re sick—You’ll recover faster, and you’re less likely to make others sick. Droplets from your coughs and sneezes can travel up to six feet. Germs on your hands can contaminate surfaces you touch.
Learn more about how you can stay flu free in the 253 at www.tpchd.org/flu.

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.

Contact
Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager
(253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text), ejeffers@tpchd.org

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