September 5, 2019
Media Contact: Lorrie Andrew-Spear, Lorrie.Andrew-Spear@vdh.virginia.gov,
Offers Walk-in Flu Shots at Local Health Departments
(Winchester, Va.)— Now that summer heat is finally loosening its grip on the Valley, it is time to plan for flu season. Getting a flu shot every year is the single best way to prevent the flu.
“It’s important to get the flu shot every year,” says Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene. “Flu causes between 12,000 and 79,000 deaths each year in the United States. Those at highest risk for complications include people over 50 and under six years of age, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant during the flu season, anyone with chronic medical conditions or suppressed immune systems, residents of long-term care facilities and people of Native American ancestry.”
Dr. Greene added, “Flu viruses are constantly changing, so each year’s flu vaccine is designed to keep up with the changing viruses. Because of this, an annual flu shot is essential to protect your health, and the health of those around you.”
Everyone aged 6 months and older who does not have a medical reason not to get the flu vaccine should receive the flu shot. This is especially true for members of high-risk groups, or those who care for and live with them. For example, babies under six months of age are too young to get vaccinated, therefore it’s vital to immunize those who come in contact with the very young.
Flu season typically runs from the fall through the winter and early spring months. Immunity to the influenza virus develops about two weeks after vaccination and lasts for six months or more. The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October to ensure you are protected throughout the season. Certain children under age 9 require two shots 4 weeks apart to achieve immunity, so these children should get their first shot by the end of September.
Vaccinations are Readily Available
Flu shots are available now at most pharmacies and clinics in various retail outlets. Health Department Clinics in the Lord Fairfax Health District (Frederick/Winchester, Clarke, Shenandoah, Page, and Warren) are offering walk-in flu shots most weekdays. Look for the “FLU VACCINES AVAILABLE” sign on a sandwich board outside the Health Department clinic. If the sign is up, you can get your shot. The Health Department accepts most insurance programs, including Medicaid.
In addition to getting your flu shot, here are some additional steps to prevent flu and other illnesses:
- Breastfeed your infant. Babies under six months of age cannot be vaccinated against the flu, and are at higher-than-usual risk for flu-related complications. Breast milk, especially in a mother who has received the flu shot, contains antibodies that offer the infant protection against the flu. For more information, go to https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/maternal-or-infant-illnesses/influenza.html.
- Stay home when you are sick. Keep your distance to protect others from getting sick, too. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands, as well as gatherings of family and friends. If you’re well, try to avoid contact with those who are sick. Keep young infants and those in high-risk groups away from sick persons.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue, throw it away immediately, and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze snugly into the crook of your elbow to prevent germs from spreading into the air. The commonly seen practice of holding a fist in front of a cough does no good, and actually leaves germs on the person’s hand that spread by touching.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Soap and water are best, but if they are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs on surfaces can be picked up and spread when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. It helps to clean and disinfect surfaces at home, school and work – especially if someone is sick.
- Support your general health. Reduce stress, get enough sleep, exercise, eat nutritious foods, and drink plenty of fluids. A healthy body is better able to resist illness.
Additional information on flu is available at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html
The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents of the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren Counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.