Many area pharmacies and health care providers now have supplies of the flu vaccine, and El Paso County Public Health urges people to get their annual immunization now for protection during this is year’s flu season.
An annual immunization boosts your immune system and is the first and most important step in protecting yourself against this serious disease. It is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older to get flu vaccination.
Flu activity commonly begins as early as October and can occur as late as May. It takes about two weeks after receiving a flu vaccine for the body to effectively build antibodies to protect against infection.
During the 2012-2013 flu season, 160 people in El Paso County were hospitalized due to flu-related illnesses. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Some people with the flu will not have a fever.
In addition to offering individual protection, vaccination helps to reduce the overall spread of flu, and helps to protect those who cannot be vaccinated, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant. These people are at an increased risk of severe disease when exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases, and rely on the vaccinated members of their community to reduce the spread of infection.
Here are some tips to help stop the spread of germs at home, work, and school:
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Stay home when you are sick.
· Cough or sneeze into a tissue or a sleeve.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water to help protect yourself from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Find a Flu Vaccine
To locate a flu vaccine clinic near you, call the Pikes Peak United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral hotline, visit www.vaccine.healthmap.org or www.elpasocountyhealth.org. El Paso County Public Health’s Immunization Clinic also has flu vaccine available. Prices vary depending on health care coverage and type of vaccine product (flu mist or shot). Appointments are encouraged; to make an appointment or to inquire about prices, call (719) 578-3199.