MIAMI COUNTY — Flu season has just began, and health officials in Miami County are encouraging citizens to be proactive about getting vaccinated.
An average of 200,000 adults and children get the flu each year. According to Director of Nursing at Miami County Public Health Deb French, the Center for Disease Control — whose standards MCPH follows — recommend getting vaccinated by October. If October is not an option, people still come in December and January for vaccines, but ideally, the best time to get it is sooner.
“Everyone 6 months and older should get a shot, according to the CDC,” she said. “It’s more dangerous for infants, young children, people who are 65 or older, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions or weakened immune systems, such as heart disease, lung disease, asthma.”
She added that caregivers and those who work with these segments of the population should also be vaccinated.
French explained how the ingredients in this year’s flu vaccine were decided. The Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Committee met and examined the data for 2015’s flu vaccine. There are two vaccines available, a trivalent and quadrivalent. MCPH only receives and administers the latter.
“What it does is they get the injection and that injection helps the body produce antibodies, which antibodies are proteins produced by your immune system, so when it detects something harmful it attacks it,” she explained.
A common misconception is that the flu vaccine gives recipients the flu, which French said has no veracity and has not been proven.
“The injectable flu vaccine is a dead virus,” she said. “The nasal mist is a live virus, but there is no data that shows that it has given anybody the flu.”
Another common misconception comes from individuals not understanding what the flu is. Dr. Jim Burkhardt, D.O. at Upper Valley Family Care, said that many people confuse intestinal issues with influenza.
“Vomiting and diarrhea is not influenza,” he said. “Influenza is a lung infection, and people are sick — headache, high fever. It’s almost as bad as pneumonia, sometimes worse.”
French agreed, explained that influenza is a respiratory illness that comes on very quickly, which patients can feel when it comes on and causes weakness, elevated temperature and all the other flu symptoms. Those symptoms are covered with the vaccine.
“Even if someone comes in to get a vaccine after they’ve had the flu, it’s still a good idea to get vaccinated because you don’t know what viruses they are carrying or what they have,” she said, adding that last year viruses were going around that were not covered in the flu vaccine, although the CDC still encouraged people to get vaccinated.
Burkhardt said this year’s vaccine would hopefully be an improvement from the year before, which had an average 20-25 percent effective rate.
“That’s not very good,” he said. “They changed it around a little bit each year as different age groups get different vaccines and how many strains are a little different than the dose for people above 65 is boosted to a higher dose because of the waning immune system in the elderly.”
Anyone interested in getting a vaccine at Miami County Public Health can come in Monday through Friday from 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m for adults and children 10 and older. MCPH has KidShot clinics on Tuesday from 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. and does kids shots Thursday mornings from 8-11 a.m.
Parents wanting to bring their families in but unable to make it during clinic times are free to call and make arrangements.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.