Officials encourage flu vaccinations before holidays

Dec 10 2011 - 12:25am

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NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner
Clinical health nurse Pat Smith gives Aaron Reich a flu vaccine on Friday at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner
Clinical health nurse Pat Smith gives Aaron Reich a flu vaccine on Friday at the Davis County Health Department in Clearfield.

CLEARFIELD -- To prevent the flu from spreading faster than holiday cheer, Top of Utah county health officials are encouraging the public to get a flu vaccination before Christmas.

It takes between 10 days and two weeks, once the flu vaccine has been given, for immunity to fully build up, said Vener DeFriez, Davis County Health immunizations bureau manager.

Health officials are concerned the build-up period puts potential influenza carriers right in the midst of the Christmas season, when there is a lot of handshaking and hugging between family and friends.

The cold weather keeps people indoors more, which can promote the spread of influenza when someone is contagious, officials said.

"You can have the flu for 24 hours and not know it," Davis County Health public information officer Bob Ballew said.

"We want you to be immune before families gather and germs spread," Weber-Morgan Health Department immunizations program manager Michelle Singleton said.

Singleton said people always question whether they should attend a family gathering during the holidays when they fear they might be sick, Singleton said.

"If we help get immunized, it helps reduce the fear," she said.

But there are those who have already rolled up their sleeves and received their flu vaccinations.

Since August, Davis County Health had administered 3,425 does of influenza vaccine, as of Dec. 7, DeFriez said.

At this same time last year, the health department had administered about 10,000 doses of the influenza vaccine, DeFriez said.

The reason for fewer doses administered is that many people now receive their flu vaccine through clinics at store pharmacies, their place of work or at their doctor's office, DeFriez said.

Weber-Morgan County Health, during that same time frame this year, has administered 2,989 doses of the flu vaccine, said spokeswoman Lori Buttars.

In 2010, the department administered about 2,700 flu vaccine doses during that time frame, Buttars said. Because of a change in how the department tracks its vaccinations, an exact count on the number of flu vaccine doses given in 2011 is unavailable.

Even though there are numerous locations to receive flu vaccinations, officials said they still sees a number of children needing the flu vaccine because the pharmacy clinics don't generally provide it for them.

However, the most difficult age group to get immunized is teens.

"Teens don't usually visit doctor's offices," DeFriez said.

That is why the health department encourages parents to see to it that their teenage children receive a flu immunization, officials said.

Teens come in close contact with one another at school, which can easily spread the disease, DeFriez said.

The $25 vaccination is a small investment compared to the number of workdays that can be missed as a result of someone coming in contact with the flu, Ballew said.

"You should do it for other people as well as yourself," Buttars said.

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