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Local News

Flu Season Prompts Calls To Get Vaccinated

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Lance McCord
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  Hello, and welcome to flu season.   

Usually starting in early October and lasting until May, influenza season peaks in January and February in the Panhandle. The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County is encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

“The information that we most recently got from the Florida Department of Health indicates the “A” strain – the H3 specifically, probably H3N2 – is more prevalent,” said Dr. John Lanza, Escambia County’s Health Director. “There’s at least one “B” strain out there also.”

As of mid-October, seven vaccine manufacturers were projecting that up to 156 million doses would be available for use in the U.S. during the 2014-2015 influenza season.

To refresh memories, flu symptoms can include cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and fever. Diarrhea and vomiting are also possible. Those at risk of complications are advised to contact their physician immediately if flu symptoms appear.

Besides pregnant women, others who should get vaccinated include: caregivers of infants younger than six months; infants and children older than six months, and adults 65-plus.

Since influenza is not a reportable disease, the number of actual cases could be much greater than those who come in for treatment. Dr. Susan Turner monitors flu activity at the DOH Escambia, through local hospitals and “sentinel physicians.” Generally speaking, she says winter is the peak of the season.

“It’s really not known why, during the colder months, these respiratory viruses seem to circulate, but they absolutely do” said Turner.

Other protections against the flu include basic hygiene, which begins with hand-washing -- and lots of it. Also, try to avoid close contact with those who are sick; get plenty of sleep, stay physically active, and eat healthy. Another problem in getting accurate counts of influenza cases is that the symptoms mimic those of other ailments such as colds, which are also prevalent during flu season.

Dr. John Lanza also wants to get out the word, to help dispel a long-time rumor that still has traction among some people.

“It is impossible to get the flu from the flu shot or the nasal spray. It cannot happen” says Lanza.” If you seem to have gotten the flu, sometime after having the nasal spray or the flu shot, it was coincidence.”

More information on getting vaccinated this flu season can be found at Escambia.floridahealth.gov, and at cdc.gov.