Flu season looms, vaccinations recommended
November 4, 2014
"A lot of people don’t think they need to get one but they should."
That’s what Summit County Health Department Nursing Director Carolyn Rose says about flu immunization shots. As a general rule, she says everyone over six months old should get immunized.
The people most at risk from flu season are infants, the elderly and people suffering from chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems. This means that, in addition to getting immunized, those people need to be surrounded by similarly immunized people.
"It’s kind of like a group effort," Rose says. "People say ‘well I never get the flu.’ Well that’s true, they might not, however, they might get mild symptoms of it and they can transmit it to somebody who won’t be able to handle it as easily."
"If the healthier person gets immunized as well as the immunocompromised one, then it helps to protect that compromised person," she said.
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Do people need to pay attention to what type of immunization they get or is a flu shot a flu shot?
"Yes and no," Rose says. "Last year they introduced the first four-strain of flu shot (quadrivalent), when it’s always been just three strains (trivalent) contained in each shot."
The same is true this year. Both quadrivalent and trivalent vaccinations are widely available.
"We are only carrying the four-strain one," Rose said. While the three-strain should be fine for most people, she added, "I think people who have chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, should search out the four-strain, but that’s just my opinion."
Those quadrivalent types can come in a nasal mist form, as opposed to a shot with a needle.
There is one more type of flu shot — a high-dosage type — that the elderly should seek out.
"People over 65, we highly recommend the high-dose flu shot, which is a stronger formula, because as we get older, our systems don’t respond as well to building antibodies," Rose says. The high-dose vaccinations can cost up to double that of the ordinary vaccinations, but Medicare covers 100 percent of the cost.
Flu vaccinations are widely available throughout Summit County, though the specific types will depend on the location. Health insurance plans usually, but not always, cover 100 percent of flu vaccination costs.
The Summit County Health Department offers quadrivalent vaccinations, both mist and needle ($25), and high-dose vaccines for seniors ($40). Those vaccines are in stock and available at each of the department’s locations, in Coalville, Kamas and Park City.
Intermountain Medical Group’s Round Valley office offers quadrivalent vaccinations ($80) and is holding flu vaccination clinics every Monday night until 8 p.m. through mid-December.
At least three pharmacy locations are offering vaccinations in Park City (Walmart, Smith’s and Rite Aid) as well as vaccination-travel clinic Park City Vaccines.
Walmart currently has trivalent vaccines ($25), quadrivalent ($30) and high-dose ($30).
Rite Aid has quadrivalent mist-form vaccines ($47.99) and high-dose vaccines ($60.99).
Smith’s is currently limited to trivalent vaccines ($28).
Park City Vaccines has quadrivalent vaccines ($30) available but is out of high-dose ones (appointments are recommended).
In Kamas, the Kamas Pharmacy (inside Food Town), has a dwindling supply of quadrivalent vaccines ($28.95) but is expecting a new supply of trivalent vaccines next week. Those are expected to cost around $16 or $17.
Flu-season best practices
"We’re getting into the sick season and it’s really important for everybody to wash their hands and cough or sneeze into your elbow and if you’re sick, if at all possible, stay home. I know some people have to go to work, but they don’t need to go out to parties and they don’t really need to go out to social gatherings and social places when they’re ill. That’s how this spreads so much," Rose said.
"We say it year after year after year and it’s still the best practice."
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