It’s not too late to get the flu shot
November 11, 2016
The ski season may be getting off to a slow start, but flu season has arrived and Summit County health experts say there's a great way to avoid coming down with a fever, stomach ache and chills.
Flu shot vaccines are available at many clinics and pharmacies in the area. Carolyn Rose, nursing director for the Summit County Health Department, said it's not too late to get the shot that keeps those with compromised immune systems healthy.
"Most people get it in October or November," she said. "If you haven't got it by the end of November and it happens to be a little bit later in the flu season than usual, then it's still fine to get it in December, January and February."
The Center for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) usually releases flu vaccines in August and recommends people get a shot as soon as possible.
Rose said it's important that people get a shot each year, because the vaccines protect against the flu strains researchers think to be the most common during the season.
"When they're looking at the various flu strains in the world, they look at how contagious they are, or infectious they are," she said. "That is how they come up with the three main strains."
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There are usually three traditional vaccines available each year. The CDC recommends that everyone ages six months and older get one of the three.
Rose said the health department administers flu shots at its Park City, Kamas and Coalville health centers.
The nursing director said the department is short staffed at the moment, so people might not always be able to walk in for a flu shot. She did say the centers in Coalville and Kamas are fully staffed on Tuesdays, and the one in Park City should be able to take walk-ins on Wednesdays. The health department charges $25 per vaccination.
"We also bill a lot of insurances actually, so you just have to ask when you come in if we bill your insurance," she said.
Some people might not want to make the extra trip to the center, which is why Rose is glad most Park City pharmacies also offer a flu shots.
For instance, Rite Aid's pharmacy, found in the store located at 950 Iron Horse Drive, offers a flu shot for $32.99. Like the department, it also bills insurance companies.
Lexi Banks, a pharmacy technician there, said it's important for everyone, healthy or not, to get a shot.
"There is quite a big group of people who can't get it because they are immune compromised or something like that," she said. "Not only does it protect yourself from it, but it does protect other people as well that you might come in contact with."
Rose agrees with Banks. She said it's important to realize that not all people quickly recover from the flu.
"If somebody gets the flu and they're healthy and they can handle it, they might be sick for a little while and then they'll get better," she said. "However, it's easily transmitted, so they can transmit it to others in their families like babies who can't tolerate it as well."
Rose said groups such as the young and elderly are at high risk of serious flu complications. People with cancer and chronic diseases such as asthma or diabetes also can't afford to get the virus.
Some people prefer to get flu shots at their doctor's office or a local health clinic. Park City clinics are encouraging people to get the vaccine when they come in for other appointments.
Dusty Fallentine, practice supervisor for the Park City Clinic at Round Valley Drive, said he encourages patients to get immunized. He also tries to address the common flu shot misconception that the shot can infect people with the flu.
"The one we use in my clinic is an inactivated virus, which means you can't get sick from it," he said.
Rose said she hears the same complaint from people.
"It's a killed virus, which means they take an active part of the virus and they split it, so that by the time the manufacturers make the vaccine it's a dead virus," she said. "It triggers your body into making antibodies against that strain, so when you do come in contact with it, you'll have something to fight it."
Fallentine said the shot does have side effects, but they are rare.
"Sometimes patients still experience a localized reaction with a little swelling and a little redness," he said. "Yes, there can be some side effects, but they are pretty rare. They are signs you are making antibodies."
While clinics and pharmacies offered the nasal spray flu vaccination in past years, they are not doing so this year due to a CDC recommendation.
"The CDC put out a recommendation this year that the nasal spray was not very effective," Fallentine said. "We decided not to carry it if it wasn't going to effective."
Fallentine said the most important thing is to keep people healthy during the winter season, and the flu shot is an proven way to do so.
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