(Oct. 12, 2012) While frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with those who are sick are beneficial, annual flu vaccines are the best way to prevent the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Influenza and complications resulting from the virus kill an estimated 20,000 people each year, according to the CDC. Although rates of influenza vaccinations have increased in recent years, health surveys indicate that less than half of the high-risk population receives a yearly vaccine.
Influenza, or flu, is a highly contagious virus spread by inhaling droplets from an infected individual’s cough or sneeze. Most symptoms emerge within 24 to 48 hours and are characterized by fever, chills, sore throat, cough and headache. Just one infected person can unknowingly pass on the flu to family members and loved ones because the virus can be transmitted 24 hours before symptoms appear.
Those at an increased risk for influenza related complications: persons 65 years and older; nursing home residents and other chronic care facilities; adults and children with chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including children with asthma; people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes; and those with blood diseases like sickle cell anemia, or impaired immunity
Children and teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy and anyone working or living with someone in a high-risk category should get a flu shot every year.
The vaccine is usually given before the flu season. Residents may receive the vaccine from health care providers or at one of the free immunization clinics offered provided by Atlantic General Hospital and the Atlantic General Health System.
Since flu viruses mutate often, vaccines should be repeated each year. The vaccine is made from eggs. Those allergic to eggs should consult with his or her health care provider.
Atlantic General Hospital/Health System is offering free flu shot clinics to the community. Individuals must be at least 13 years old to receive the vaccine at one of the following free clinics in Worcester: n BERLIN (hospital outpatient services lobby): Wednesdays, Oct. 17 and 24, and Nov. 7 and 14, 2-6 p.m. nSNOW HILL (Taylor Bank): Thursday, Oct. 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. nOCEAN CITY: z Townsend Medical Center, 10th Street, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. z Holy Savior Church, 17th Street: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. n POCOMOKE: (Pocomoke Fire Station): Tuesday, Oct. 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information on the Atlantic General Hospital Free Flu Shot Clinics, contact Atlantic General Hospital at 410- 641-9FLU (9358).