Tioga County Marks National Influenza Vaccination Week

Joy Montgomery
December 5, 2017

This year's flu season is off to a fast and early start.

The Centers for Disease Control said MA was one of four states to report widespread flu activity in the country the previous week.

Doctor Daniel Skiest said there have been an uptick in confirmed flu cases in the last week in MA and even within Baystate Medical Center. According to preliminary estimates from Australia, the flu vaccine was 33 percent effective at preventing the flu and only 10 percent effective at preventing infection with H3N2, the predominate flu strain in circulation during the country's flu season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year among different age and risk groups and even by vaccine type.

But they say it's still extremely important for people to get vaccinated, as herd immunity - when enough members of a community get vaccinated to prevent a risky outbreak - can protect vulnerable members of the community, like children, seniors and people with serious illnesses that impact their immune system.

The vaccination program ended a couple of weeks ago, and in addition to adults getting their shots, 1,890 Campbell County students also received a flu shot, said Nachelle McGrath, Campbell County Healthcare Foundation executive director.

The Edmonton zone has reported 167 lab confirmed cases and 61 hospitalizations. Vaccinating as many people as possible can decrease the amount of the flu in the community this winter.

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Flu is most unsafe for people over age 65, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions such as asthma or heart disease.

"However imperfect, though, current influenza vaccines remain a valuable public health tool, and it is always better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated", the paper said.

So far this season, weekly flu tracking data from the Wyoming Department of Health indicates that most cases are in Uinta and Sweetwater counties.

For needle-phobes, there's a skin-deep vaccine that uses tiny needles, and a needle-free jet injector that shoots another vaccine through the skin. The self-pay cost of vaccines is $25 and the high-dose vaccine for people 65 or older cost is $55. "So typically there's no cost to the vaccine", she said.

FluMist, a less ouchy nasal spray vaccine, once was popular with children.

The paper also noted that the flu vaccine "mismatch" seen in Australia this year could be related to the way most flu vaccines are now made: using chicken eggs to "grow" the flu virus strains.

That's the same advice this year: Youngsters will need a shot, just like their parents. "The best flu vaccine is the one that you get".

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