Officials say it’s time to get the flu shotPublished 10:40pm Tuesday, September 3, 2013
By Jay Sowers
The Selma Times-Journal
Temperatures may still be in the 90s and autumn might seem to be taking its sweet time, but cooler temperatures, and the flu season, are right around the corner.
Even though it seems far off now, Denice Clark, R.N., with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said residents of Selma and Dallas County, especially those who are more susceptible to the disease, should start making preparations today.
“It’s important especially for the infants [to get a flu shot],” Clark said “As well as anybody that is considered high risk.”
Clark said people who are pregnant, living with diabetes or asthma, or undergoing cancer treatment, are urged to get a flu shot as early in the flu season as they can, to help prevent the illness.
“It is important, because if they get the flu, they will be in even worse shape than they were before,” Clark said.
While the extremely young and old are also at a higher risk of catching the flu, Clark said parents of newborns are told to wait until the child is 6-months-old before the baby can receive the treatment.
“We start giving shots to children when they are 6-months-old because they don’t have as many antibodies built up in their systems as we do,” Clark said.
While the Dallas County branch of the ADPH had not yet received this year’s flu shots, Clark said once they arrive, residents will be able to receive them soon after.
“Last year, the recommendation was that all providers started giving flu shots as soon as they are available,” Clark said. “I’ve not heard anything yet, so I assume nothing will be different this year.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates anywhere between 3,000 to 49,000 people die from flu in the United States each year, and up to 200,000 are sick enough to be hospitalized. A lot depends on the strength of the flu strains circulating.
During last year’s flu season, 160 children across the country died from flu.
Along with receiving a flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control recommends several other steps to prevent protect one’s self from influenza: get a flu vaccine, avoid contact with sick people, cover mouth and nose when sneezing, as well as cleaning and disinfecting commonly used surfaces and objects around the house that could harbor and spread the virus.