December 17, 2019
For More Information Contact
- Robin Jackson, public health nurse supervisor, Cumberland Plateau Health District, 276-889-7621
(LEBANON, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health reminds everyone that influenza or “the flu” is now widespread in the Commonwealth, with reports of cases increasing each week. The good news is that there is time to protect yourself, your friends and family against flu!
Local health departments in Cumberland Plateau — the Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell County Health Departments — now offer the standard injectable flu vaccine (preservative-free) for anyone age 6 months and older at no charge. Getting the flu vaccine is the best means of protecting yourself and those around you against flu illness.
For the rest of December, flu vaccine is available at the Dickenson County Health Department each Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and at the Buchanan County and Tazewell County Health Departments each weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The vaccine also is available at the Russell County Health Department on Wednesday and Thursday, December 18 and19 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Note that all health department offices are closed December 24 and 25.
Except for a few rare exceptions everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of developing serious flu complications, including adults age 65 and older, children younger than 5 (especially children younger than 2), pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of a pregnancy, American Indians and Alaska Natives and residents of nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
The flu virus occurs in several slightly different strains which may change from year to year. This year’s flu vaccine protects against three or four strains of the virus (two flu A strains and one or two flu B strains).
This year’s flu strains are likely to circulate for the next four to five months. Getting a flu shot now will stimulate your body to provide full protection in about two weeks, and through the rest of the flu season. Now there also are newer flu vaccines for people who have egg allergies, or those over age 65, that need a higher-dose vaccine.
Flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes-even death. Every flu season is different, and flu can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and many thousands die from flu-related causes every year.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits, reducing the risk of illnesses, hospitalizations and even flu-related death.
To protect yourself and those you love from the flu:
- Wash hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue;
- Stay home when sick until you are fever-free for 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medications), except to get medical care;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and
- Keep surfaces cleaned and disinfected.
For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/influenza-flu-in-virginia or www.cdc.gov/flu. To find out about free flu shots at your local health department, call 276-935-4591 (Buchanan County), 276-926-4979 (Dickenson County), 276-889-7621 (Russell County) or 276-988-5585 (Tazewell County).