News

The flu fight has begun

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

It’s time to start sticking it to the bug.

Starting this month, healthcare providers countywide, including Seattle-King County Public Health Department clinics in Federal Way and elsewhere, are offering vaccinations against the flu.

Until Oct. 24, first priority for flu shots will be given to people who traditionally are considered the most likely to develop the worst complications from influenza –– babies, pregnant women, the elderly, and children and adults suffering chronic medical conditions.

Health Department clinics began giving shots-by-appointment Monday. They cost $25. A nasal spray vaccine costs $30 per dose.

In addition, private providers of shots include US Healthworks in Federal Way, pharmacies at Fred Meyer, Walgreen and Safeway stores, Long’s Drugs and Visiting Nurse Services. Their fees vary.

More information, including locations and schedules of immunization sites, is available from the Health Department’s Web site (www.metrokc.gov), which is linked to The Mirror’s on-line edition (www.fedwaymirror.com).

Flu shots are “safe” and help communities “by reducing the risk of getting the flu and reducing its severity,” said Dorothy Teeter, interim director of the Health Department.

This year, as many as 80 million doses will be supplied nationally by manufacturers –– a higher number than last year, when the antidote was in short supply because of the shutdown of one maker.

According to public health authorities, including the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people on the high-priority list for vaccinations include:

• Anyone 65 or older, regardless of whether they have any serious health problems.

• Residents of long-term care facilities.

• All children from 6 to 23 months of age.

• Healthcare personnel who work directly with patients.

Officials said persons at high risk for flu complications may also need to be immunized against pneumococcal pneumonia. The vaccine is given once to most people, twice to individuals with certain medical conditions.

In the past 12 months, 171 cases of flu in King County have been confirmed, according to the Health Department.

People can avoid the bug by practicing good hygiene and health manners, such as covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing (use a tissue or a sleeve) and washing their hands with water or an alcohol-based gel or wipe. And it would help if people stay home when they’re sick, Health Department officials said.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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