Health officials press for early vaccinations

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Peggy Benson gives Kenadi Braun, 5, a dose of FluMist at JCMG on Monday afternoon. Flu clinics are being held earlier this year to encourage people to get the shot before the flu season hits full force.

Patients wanting a vaccination against seasonal flu are being advised to roll up their sleeves a full month early.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are advising patients to get the vaccine as soon as it is available.

Cindy Andrews, RN, risk management coordinator and employee health and infection control nurse with JCMG, said her organization is taking the same stance.

Noting that providers may recommend different vaccine schedules for patients, Andrews said that the CDC recommended all health care organizations begin giving the vaccine as soon as they have their supply.

Since the vaccine, which protects against the 2009 H1N1 strain, H3N2 and influenza B, were made available early, the clinics began nearly a month ahead of normal.

And while the clinics have seen as few as half of the patients as last year, the belief is that patients are finding the vaccine at a variety of walk-in locations or simply do not know it is currently available.

Renee Braun, a parent of two young children, was at the third clinic at JCMG, and said she always gets the vaccine as soon as she can, hoping to get her children vaccinated before they get exposed to the flu.

“I had called to make an appointment for tonight to get their flu shots and they told me about the clinic,” Braun said as she waited with her children, Kenadi, 5, and Jackson, 3. While some believe the vaccine will not cover them for the whole flu season, the CDC and Andrews say that is not true.

“The CDC states that the vaccination should last about a year,” Andrews said. “Based on these recommendations, we have started providing the vaccination, and it should last the entire flu season.”

Recommendations for those who should receive the vaccine have not changed. Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated, and women who are pregnant can receive the vaccine as well.

The few urged to avoid the vaccine include anyone with a severe egg allergy, those who have had a reaction to a flu vaccine in the past, anyone younger than 6 months old and those who have a moderate to severe illness.

Those who have an illness or temperature can receive the vaccine after their symptoms have subsided.

The vaccine is available again as an injection or as a nasal spray, FluMist.

Since there is no longer active virus in the vaccines, no one should get flu-related symptoms simply from receiving the vaccine. The nasal spray contains weakened vaccine that should not cause irritation or adverse affects.

Kenadi Braun said the Flu-Mist was not a big deal at all.

“I could do this every day — I did not feel anything,” she said.

The FluMist is available for healthy people ages 3-49, but not pregnant women.

Pregnant women and children under the age of 3 must receive a preservative-free vaccine available upon request at most physicians and flu clinics.

While the FluMist is just as effective as the injection, it really comes down to personal preference. However, there are some exclusions to those who can receive FluMist.

Jim Pruitt and his seven children came to the clinic at JCMG on Monday evening to get everyone vaccinated. His wife was vaccinated the week before, and while he said they were aware of the option of injection versus mist, they chose to go with the injection.

“It is just the method we chose, and we know works for us,” Pruitt said.

Walk-in flu clinics

8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday: walk-ins are welcome at Whaley’s East End Drug, 630 E. High St.

10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m., Monday-Friday: walk-ins are welcome at Whaley’s Southwest, 1431 Southwest Blvd.

8 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesdays: walkins are welcome at Whaley’s West Side Pharmacy, 3526 Amazonas Drive. Whaley’s will offer preservativefree vaccines for pregnant women while supplies last.

The Callaway County Health Department will offer vaccines from 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. on Oct. 8. The Cole County Health Department will offer vaccines beginning Oct. 12.

Walk-ins are welcome from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday at the Cole County Health Department, 1616 industrial Drive. Flu vaccines are $25, Medicare, Medicaid, cash and checks are accepted.

Walgreens is accepting walk-ins daily. JCMG flu clinics for patients will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 11 and 18th in Family Medicine and from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 7, 14 and 21 in Pediatrics.

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