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Flu season on horizon

Flu season on horizon

October 7th, 2013 in News

University of Missouri nursing student Lauren Swankoski administers this year's flu shot Friday to Capital Region Medical Center employee Megan Jones, a unit clerk in ICU. Hospital employees were offered the preventive shot.

Photo by Julie Smith

Local medical entities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend you get your seasonal flu shot as soon as it is available, even though peak flu season typically begins in January.

The Cole County Health Department began offering a quadrivalent vaccine last week. The vaccine includes two strains of Influenza A and two strains of Influenza B.

Jessi Kempker, immunization coordinator for the Cole County Health Department, said the flu shot has always been trivalent, offering three strains of the virus.

"This is the first year we've had the quadrivalent," she said. "We offer the shot, and there's also several other ways that you can get it. There's the intradermal and the flu mist, which is nasal."

"They're all proven to be the same amount of effectiveness, but they've come out with the different routes to get more individuals vaccinated."

Capital Region Medical Center (CRMC) physicians are also offering the

quadrivalent flu shots.

Dr. Randall Haight, vice president of medical affairs at CRMC and a physician with Capital City Medical Associates, said CRMC physicians believe providing the new version of the flu vaccine is the best choice for the hospital's patients.

"Because this vaccine guards against four types of flu instead of the traditional vaccine's protection against three types, it gives even greater protection," Haight said.

St. Mary's Health Center is offering the trivalent vaccine during this year's flu season, protecting against three strains of the virus. Jefferson City Medical Group is offering the trivalent vaccine for everyone 4 years and older. A quadrivalent vaccine is available for ages 3 and younger.

Greg Rehagen, a licensed practical nurse in family medicine at JCMG, said the medical group on average gives 10,000 doses of the flu vaccine annually.

The medical group is hosting a flu clinic from 5-6:30 p.m. every Tuesday in October in the family medicine department.

Kempker said it's important to note that the vaccine protects you from influenza, the respiratory virus.

"A lot confuse it with the stomach flu, but they're two totally different things," she said.

She said you should get a flu shot to protect not only yourself, but others from the virus.

"Cover your cough, wash your hands," Kempker said. "Do those sorts of things to prevent infecting yourself and others."

Rehagen, who orders JCMG's flu vaccines, said he also advises patients to get adequate sleep.

"Just practice healthy habits," he said.