Winter brings the increased risk of illnesses such as influenza and whooping cough, but with vaccinations and safe practices individuals can significantly reduce their chances of getting sick.
The Summit County Health Department provides vaccinations for influenza and whooping cough (or pertussis) at their three offices in Park City, Kamas and Coalville. The flu vaccine is provided at a cost of $20. For children ages six months to 18 years with no insurance or Medicaid, the cost is $10.
"Influenza is starting to pick up a little right now, but it's at about the same as last year," said Health Dept. Nursing Director Carolyn Rose. "The most prominent strain is the 2009 H1N1 strain mixed in with a few Influenza B [cases]."
For pertussis, which is not as commonly known as influenza, initial symptoms can appear to be very similar to the common cold. It often starts off with a runny nose, sneezing, a low-grade fever and a mild cough. It then progresses to severe coughing, which can last several weeks.
Infants and small children can be especially susceptible to pertussis and the condition could lead to hospitalization or even death. Rose said that those parents who are thinking about exempting their child from receiving a vaccine should think about others' infants and children.
"If their child gets the disease, it's easier for them to pass that disease along," Rose said. "We're looking at a child not just as an individual but as part of a community.
Once a person is exposed to pertussis, symptoms can appear with seven to 10 days, but can sometimes take as long as three weeks. The Health Dept. warns parents to watch for the following signs of pertussis in their children:
The Health Dept. also has a pneumonia vaccine available for individuals 65 years and older ($65) as well as a high-dose flu shot ($40). Medicare can be billed for the shots.
Rose said that individuals not only need to be aware of the risk of spreading illnesses to infants and children but to the elderly and those with conditions such as cancer or diabetes who have weaker immune systems and are not as able to fight off viruses and bacteria.
The Health Dept. offers flu shots at its Park City, Kamas and Coalville offices on a weekly basis. Park City will offer flu shots Wednesdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m., Kamas offers flu shots Tuesdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and Coalville Tuesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, visit summitcountyhealth.org.