Health Workers Urge Flu Shots
October 28, 2010
Health workers urge flu shots
Wheat Ridge hospital confirms first local flu case of season
by Megan Quinn/Wheat Ridge Transcript
October 21, 2010
Residents should think about getting a flu shot sooner rather than later, officials say.
With Exempla Lutheran Medical Center confirming its first case of the flu Friday, local health care specialists argue that flu shots are quick, easy to access and necessary for avoiding misery and missed workdays.
Amber Miller, infection prevention specialist at Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, fields questions about infectious diseases daily. Miller said residents should not wait to get a flu shot because it takes two weeks after the shot for the human body to build the immunity.
The Center for Disease Control said every adult and children older than 6 months should get the shot.
"We used to tell people to start getting them in late October, but we think it's best go get them as soon as possible," she said.
Miller said she often hears misinformation about the illness. One common misconception is that the shot can give you the flu. Another is that healthy people do not need a vaccine.
It is equally important for children and adults to get vaccinated, she said.
"The key is to target the younger population because they pick up so many germs at school, then bring them home to their families, who then take them to work," she said.
Anyone between the ages of 2 and 49 who is in generally good health may be able to access a flu mist instead of a traditional shot. Patients inhale the mist through the nose.
"It's good for children and people who do not like needles," she said.
Miller said specialists anticipate what type of flu strains might hit the region based on how flu travels around the world. When people are getting sick in the opposite hemisphere, the World Health Organization is tracking the type of strain to be used in seasonal flu shots.
"They plan ahead about nine months," she said.
Flu is unpredictable, however.
Last year, the H1N1 flu outbreak took some hospitals by surprise and made vaccines hard to come by. This year, however, the flu shot will inoculate patients from both seasonal flu and the H1N1 strain that sickened people last year.
" There already is an abundant supply of flu vaccine available in the state," said Joni Reynolds, immunization program director at Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Miller said H1N1 was especially potent to young people who had never been exposed to that particular strain before. Doctors last saw a similar strain about 30 years ago, she said.
Last week, the CDPHE announced the first three cases of the flu in Colorado. ELMC announced its first confirmed flu case Friday.
Last flu season, there were a total of 2,041 flu-related hospitalizations in Colorado and 69 deaths. Of the 69 deaths reported, 84 percent of the patients had underlying medical conditions, said Mark Salley of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.