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What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season


HEA-Flu-take3-press-1

From the CDC

 

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

What should I do to protect my loved ones from flu this season?

Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in their communities, preferably by October. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.

Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses. Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

When should I get vaccinated?

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against flu soon after vaccine becomes available, preferably by October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Those children 6 months through 8 years of age who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.

What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States for 2014-2015?

A number of different manufacturers produce trivalent (three component) influenza vaccines for the U.S. market, including intramuscular (IM), intradermal, and nasal spray vaccines. Some seasonal flu vaccines will be formulated to protect against four flu viruses (quadrivalent flu vaccines).

Are there new recommendations for the 2014-2015 influenza season?

Starting in 2014-2015, CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) for healthy* children 2 through 8 years of age, when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children 2 years through 8 years old should get the flu shot. Don’t delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine.

How much flu vaccine will be available this season?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 151-159 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.

When will flu vaccine become available?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so the timing of vaccine availability depends on when production is completed. If everything goes as indicated by manufacturers, shipments may begin as early as July or August and continue throughout September and October until all of the vaccine is distributed.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even by some schools.

Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.

For more info visit www.cdc.gov/flu/.

 

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Fourth flu-related death reported in Kent County


Testing has confirmed a recently-deceased individual was suffering from the flu. This is the fourth death in someone over the age of 50 in Kent County who was suffering from influenza. The initial test confirms influenza A, but not the strain. (Three earlier cases were H1N1.) In this case, there were additional, known underlying medical conditions. As of January 28, there were 583 reported flu cases in Kent County this season.

“This year, we’ve seen several tragic consequences connected to the flu,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “While three of the four cases had known pre-existing medical conditions, we know that the flu has impacted individuals of all ages and health levels.” Nationally, most of the cases of influenza being reported this year are H1N1, which in some cases leads to pneumonia and other severe respiratory issues.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine this year is highly effective protection against the flu, including H1N1. It takes 10-14 days after receiving the vaccination for a person to develop immunity. This is why you often hear people wrongly claim that they got the flu from the flu shot. Multiple studies have confirmed that the flu vaccine does not cause influenza. People can, however, become ill from exposure to contagious people during those 10 – 14 days before their immunity develops.

Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). If you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. Vaccines start at $25 for injection, and $33 for FluMist nasal spray. Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Flu information is also available on our information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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Kent County braces for flu


Vaccination best shot for avoiding influenza 

From the Kent County Health Department

 

Influenza cases generally start peaking in February. The Kent County Health Department notes the trend is rising, so now is a good time to remind everyone how to avoid the flu.

Testing has determined that many of the cases being reported are “Influenza type A,” also known as the seasonal flu.  This is one of the types contained in the flu vaccination. If you haven’t received a vaccination against the flu this year, now is a good time to do it. “You should note that the vaccination can take about two weeks to become effective,” says Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Flu vaccines for children and adults are safe, and we have plenty of injection and nasal mist available right now.”

There are other steps you can take to prevent getting the flu other viruses.  Avoid people who are already sick or running a fever if possible, and if you are sick, stay home, to prevent spreading the illness to others.  Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and toss the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer. And remember, germs spread when you touch your eyes, nose and mouth.

While everyone should get vaccinated against the flu virus, we especially recommend people at high risk of serious flu complications (young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older) get vaccinated. Health care workers, and those who care for high-risk people, should also. Children under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated, so people who care for them should be vaccinated instead.

Signs and symptoms of flu include fever (or feeling feverish/chills), cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). Not everyone with flu will have a fever, or experience all of the symptoms.

Be sure to check out the Kent County Health Department website, “Stick it to the Flu” at http://www.stickittotheflu.com/ to learn more about flu vaccinations, prevention tips and treatment, or call (616) 632-7200 to make an appointment.

 

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One-day flu vaccination clinic


Did you get vaccinated against flu yet? All locations of the Kent County Health Department are offering a flu vaccination clinic on Thursday, December 1, from 8 a.m. until 12 noon.  This one-day clinic will offer low-cost or free vaccinations for individuals who are uninsured or have insurance that does not cover flu vaccines.  Participants must be between the ages of 19 and 64 for this one-day clinic.
Fees for the vaccine are $15 or less, based on a sliding scale.  Supplies are limited, and you must have an appointment to take advantage of this special opportunity.  We have clinics in Kentwood, Wyoming, Rockford, and Grand Rapids (700 Fuller NE and the Sheldon Complex). Please call 616.632.7200 to set up your appointment.

Info from the Centers of Disease Control:

What is influenza (also called flu)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Signs and symptoms of flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
Cough
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Headaches
Fatigue (very tired)
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How flu spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
Period of contagiousness
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Complications of flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Who should get vaccinated?
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.

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Health department announces influenza activity


(Grand Rapids, MI) — “It’s not over yet.” says Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). “The typical flu season is November through April with a peak during the middle of February. The number one way to protect people from the flu is with the influenza vaccination. I encourage anyone who would like a vaccination to make an appointment with their doctor, a pharmacy, or the Kent County Health Department.”

That’s right! It’s not too late to get your flu shot and KCHD offers flu shots by appointment at all six of its clinic locations. Clinics are in Wyoming, Kentwood, Rockford, and multiple Grand Rapids locations.

Appointment times for each location vary, but appointments can be made by calling (616) 632-7200 or by visiting www.stickittotheflu.com.

Since the beginning of February there has been a significant increase (from 7% – 10%) of influenza-like-illness symptoms in emergency room visits in Kent County. Please note that influenzalike-illness complaints are not always lab-confirmed cases of the flu. As of February 5th, there have been 63 reported cases of lab-confirmed influenza since the first case on September 1st of 2010. This year’s flu season is a very typical season and trending very similar to past flu seasons (compared to 2006-2008 data).

For most recent data reports, please visit www.stickittotheflu.com. It is extremely difficult to predict if this is the peak, or if we are going to continue to see a rise in reported flu cases. But one thing is for sure, it’s definitely not over yet. This year’s influenza vaccine happens to be a great match with the influenza virus that has been most common in Kent County. So protect yourself during the duration of this year’s flu season, get vaccinated and stick it to the flu! Call KCHD at (616) 632-7200 or make an appointment online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

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Animal shelter gets grant to vaccinate dogs for influenza


Petfinder.com furnishes funds to protect shelter dogs from canine flu

sick dogKent County Animal Shelter, Grand Rapids, now has help in protecting dogs against canine influenza virus (CIV), a highly contagious disease that spreads easily from dog to dog, especially those in close proximity. The shelter received a grant for the vaccines as part of a Petfinder.com Foundation program to build community immunity against this respiratory infection. The foundation partnered with Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, a global animal health company and makers of the NOBIVAC(r) Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine, to fund the grant.
Because CIV is relatively new, most dogs have not built up immunity to the disease. Dogs can get the disease by being exposed to those that have it, as well as playing with toys or drinking from bowls used by other dogs. People can also unwittingly spread the germ if they come in contact with infected dogs.
“Shelters and rescue organizations are often the first places that new diseases already in the community become evident. Dogs come in from the community and are released back into it, and often move to and from states with confirmed cases,” said Liz Neuschatz, director of the Petfinder.com Foundation. “Canine flu can be a real problem for shelters, where one sick dog can cause an outbreak through an entire facility. We are pleased to be part of this effort to help protect the community by providing canine flu vaccine to Kent County Animal Shelter.”
Dog flu is a growing problem throughout the U.S. It has been confirmed in 34 states so far, but tracking the disease is hard because it is so difficult to diagnose. Dogs are contagious before they show any symptoms. By the time the dog starts coughing, it’s too late. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus will become infected, and some will get more serious infections, such as pneumonia, which can be fatal.  Dogs that go to doggie daycare, boarding facilities, groomers and shows and are vaccinated for canine cough (Bordetella) are also at risk for canine flu.  Information about canine flu is available at www.doginfluenza.com.
The grant for Building Community Immunity seeks to protect all at-risk dogs in the community, including those in close proximity with other dogs, as is the case with shelters and rescue facilities. It also provides greater assurance to adopting families that their new pets will be healthier and much less likely to be sick or get more serious, and sometimes fatal, infections. The grant further links PetFinder.com member shelter and rescue grant recipients with local veterinarians to protect all adoptable dogs in their care. The program promotes veterinary visits for wellness exams and, when appropriate, the second dose administration of Nobivac Canine Flu vaccine.
The Petfinder.com Foundation was created in 2003 to respond to needs of its Petfinder member shelters and rescue groups and to assist them in ensuring that no pet is euthanized for lack of a home. The vaccine grant will help keep dogs healthy and adoptable.

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