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County residents encouraged to get shots before flu season

October 29, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

While flu season typically peaks from January through March, the Washington County Health Department is encouraging all county residents to get their vaccinations early.

The Health Department will hold six flu and pneumonia vaccine clinics throughout the county beginning Nov. 13.

"It takes a couple of weeks for people's immunity to build up," said health department Public Information Officer Rod MacRae. "An early vaccination is considered to be your best protection."

MacRae said people can get flu shots anytime throughout the season, but "the earlier the better."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 36,000 people in the United States die every year from flu complications. Most of those who die are older than 65. About 114,000 people each year are hospitalized because of the disease, according to the CDC.

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"I know a lot of people consider it as sort of an occasional inconvenience," MacRae said. "It's something that can cause real complications."

Influenza is a highly infectious disease of the lungs than can lead to pneumonia, according to the CDC.

Those ages 50 or older, children younger than 2, women more than three months pregnant and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart and kidney disease, HIV infection and diabetes are encouraged to get flu shots.

MacRae said anyone who would like to be vaccinated should do so.

The vaccine usually protects most people from the flu, but a person who receives the shot still may get the illness. The symptoms will not be as severe for the vaccinated as they will be for those who get the flu without being vaccinated, according to the CDC.

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