Officials: Get a flu shot without delay

October 22, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Local health officials are encouraging people to get their flu shots early.

Flu season began Sept. 30, and will end May 18, 2008, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Flu season generally peaks in February, health officials say.

This year's round of vaccinations will protect against three strains of influenza, including a new strain, A/Solomon Islands, said Patricia Tomsky, spokeswoman for vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur.

As of late Thursday afternoon, there had been no reported confirmed cases of influenza in Maryland, Rene F. Najera, an epidemiologist for the state health department's Division of Communicable Disease Surveillance, said in an e-mail.


Rod MacRae, spokesman for the Washington County Health Department, said the department ordered 7,000 doses for this year's flu season.

So far, there are no signs of a vaccine shortage, health officials say.

The health department will host several clinics throughout Washington County. Clinics are also scheduled in Franklin County, Pa., and Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 132 million doses will be available for the 2007-08 flu season.

Sanofi Pasteur - the company that MacRae said made the vaccines offered by the Washington County Health Department - is on track to ship 50 million doses, all of which are expected to go out by the end of October, Tomsky said.

Last year, 92 million doses were administered - less than the 100 million doses vaccine makers produced that year, Tomsky said.

Tomsky said the gap has prompted the health care industry to urge people to consider vaccinations later in the season. She also said the industry would like to encourage more children to be vaccinated.

"Everybody thinks of the elderly, but it's also important to remember that we live in a network, so to protect your grandmother, you might want to get your 10-year-old vaccinated," Tomsky said.

MacRae said he would like to see more children get vaccinated, particularly children ages 6 months to 5 years old.

Who should get the vaccine

While the flu vaccine is recommended for anyone 6 months or older, Washington County Health Department makes stronger recommendations for some people.

High-risk populations who should get the vaccine:

  • Children between 6 months and 5 years of age

  • Anyone 50 or older

  • Anyone between the ages of 6 months and 18 years on long-term aspirin treatment

  • Women who will be pregnant during influenza season

  • People with long-term health problems such as heart disease and blood disorders

  • People with weakened immune systems

  • People with certain muscle or nerve disorders that can lead to breathing or swallowing problems

  • Nursing home residents

The influenza vaccine also is recommended for:

  • Health care providers

  • Those in contact with children 5 years and younger

  • Those in contact with people ages 50 and older

A yearly influenza vaccination should be considered for:

  • People living in dormitories or under crowded conditions

  • People at high risk of influenza who travel to the Southern hemisphere between April and September, to the tropics, or in organized tour groups at any time.

Where to get a flu shot in the Tri-State area

A partial listing of where flu shots are being offered in the Tri-State area:

Washington County

Washington County Health Department will offer flu clinics by appointment only Oct. 29, Oct. 30, and Nov. 1. Appointments on Wednesday, Oct. 24, can only be scheduled by calling the flu hot line, 240-313-3456. Vaccinations are free, but a $20 donation is requested.

Vaccines will be offered Monday, Oct. 29, at the following locations:

  • Smithsburg High School, 66 N. Main St., Smithsburg

  • North Hagerstown High School, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown

  • Boonsboro High School, 10 Campus Ave., Boonsboro

Vaccines will be offered Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the following locations:

  • South Hagerstown High School, 1101 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

  • Williamsport High School, 5 S. Clifton Drive, Williamsport

  • Clear Spring High School, 12630 Broadfording Road, Clear Spring

  • Hancock High School, 289 W. Main St., Hancock.

Vaccines will be offered Thursday, Nov. 1, at the following locations:

  • Community Rescue Service Inc., 110 N. Eastern Blvd., Hagerstown. This is a drive-through clinic for people with mobility impairments.

Vaccines will be offered Tuesday, Nov. 6, at:

  • Walk-in clinic. 1 to 6:30 p.m. Elks Lodge No. 378, 11063 Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown. For more information, call the health department at 240-313-3200.

Frederick County, Md.

Frederick County Health Department plans to host several flu clinics throughout November. Appointments are not necessary. Flu shots and FluMist will be available at each clinic. A pneumonia vaccine will be available at all clinics except the Nov. 2 clinics (see below).

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