Flu shot season is here

ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times Lisa Forshey, an employee of the City of Marietta, gets her flu shot from nurse Julie DePuy at the Marietta City Health Department Wednesday. Hours for the public ages 6 months and older are Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is nothing fun about getting the flu and local health departments are making preparations to help the public fend off possible illness.

The Marietta Health Department will administer vaccinations on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Washington County Health Department will kick off its flu vaccinations with a drive-thru clinic on Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Various drug store and grocery pharmacies will also offer the flu vaccine, including Rite Aid, Walgreens and White Oak Pharmacy in Barlow.

“It’s very important that everyone gets their flu shot,” said Julie DePuy, a registered nurse at the city health department. “The goal is to prevent the consequences of the flu, which is really a respiratory illness.”

DePuy said they had around 100 people come in on Monday, the first day that they offered the flu vaccine. They have three types of flu injection, including a high dose for those 65 and older.

The Ohio Health Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend an annual vaccine for those ages 6 months and older. Older and younger folks are more susceptible to getting the flu so precautions should be taken early before the flu starts spreading in communities. Symptoms can include body aches, runny nose, congestion, chills, fever, headache and loss of appetite.

It is not feasible to get an exact number of flu illnesses that occur each season because flu is not a reportable disease and not everyone who gets sick with the flu seeks medical care or gets tested. However, the CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations each year.

“ODH will start tracking flu cases next week,” said Melanie Amato, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Health. “You can get flu all year long, but we track cases from October to March.”

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For the 2017-2018 season, manufacturers projected they would provide between 151 million and 166 million doses of injectable vaccine for the U.S. market.

“What kind of season we have depends on the reports we get back. We help the state to gather that information, the doctors and hospitals report cases to us,” explained Val Betkoski, director of nursing for the Washington County Health Department. “We have plenty so there will be no shortage this year.”

Betkoski explained that it is important to get an annual flu vaccination because it wears off and there are different strains from year to year. The flu can be spread by being around a sick person so hand washing is crucial.

As was the case last year, live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – the nasal spray vaccine – is not recommended for use during the 2017-2018 season because of concerns about its effectiveness. In years past, the nasal spray was used as an alternative to an injectable. Neither the city nor county health departments have any nasal spray.

“They did not even send us any of those,” said DePuy. “They’re just not using them this year. But we have plenty of the other kind.”

Flu shot clinics

Marietta City Health Department

304 Putnam St.

¯ Ages 6 months and older.

¯ Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

¯ Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid accepted.

Washington County Health Department

342 Muskingum Drive.

¯ Ages 6 months and older.

¯ Drive-thru clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday.

¯ Flu shots start Oct. 11, Wednesdays 1 to 6 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

¯ Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid accepted.

Walgreens, Kroger, CVS, White Oak Pharmacy and Rite Aid

¯ Accepting most insurance.

¯ During pharmacy hours.

¯ Age limit depends on insurance.

¯ Find other locations here: https://vaccinefinder.org.

What’s new

¯ Nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended again this year.

¯ Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.

¯ Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended and age-appropriate flu vaccine.

¯ Two new quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines have been licensed: one inactivated influenza vaccine (“Afluria Quadrivalent” IIV) and one recombinant influenza vaccine (“Flublok Qudrivalent” RIV).

¯ The age recommendation for “Flulaval Quadrivalent” has been changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.

¯ The trivalent formulation of Afluria is recommended for people 5 years and older (from 9 years and older) in order to match the Food and Drug Administration package insert.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.