OGDEN — It may be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind, but the 2012-13 influenza vaccine is here and health officials encourage everyone to get it as soon as possible.
Influenza is no longer a seasonal illness, thanks to an increase in world travel. That means the virus is always circulating through the air; all it takes is a handshake, hug, kiss, cough or sneeze from someone infected to make anyone feel completely miserable for a good two weeks or more.
“The CDC is saying you should get the vaccine as soon as it’s available and it’s available right now,” said Gwen Hadley, Weber-Morgan Health Department assistant nursing director. “The vaccine is in plentiful supply this year and most clinics and pharmacies have started offering it.”
This year’s vaccine covers three strains: A/California H1N1, A/Victoria H3N2 and B/Wisconsin. The vaccine does not cover the strain that has infected fair patrons, so health officials encourage folks to wash their hands before and after handling pigs.
Swine flu has been on the increase around the country this year. As of Aug. 17 the Centers for Disease Control had confirmed 225 cases, compared to only 11 cases in 2011. Hadley said she has seen quite a few cases in Weber and Morgan counties as well, although not a significant increase.
“We are seeing more and more cases year round, but they will definitely increase from October to early spring,” she said.
Influenza is a contact virus that can spread from person to person or from an infected surface such as a doorknob, handrail or elevator button. Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting. The virus can cause serious complications including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
“For some people, getting the flu is more than just an inconvenience,” said Lewis Garrett, director of the Davis County Health Department. “According to figures from the CDC, influenza deaths ranged between 3,000 and 49,000 people during the last 30 years in the United States and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized yearly from flu-related complications.
Getting vaccinated is the easiest and most reliable way to avoid getting and spreading the potentially serious disease, Garrett said.
The vaccine takes about two weeks for the body to build an immune response that will last all year, Hadley said. In addition, the flu vaccine cannot give someone the flu, she said, because it’s not made with a live virus.
So who should get the flu shot? Everyone over the age of 6 months, even those in perfect health, say the experts.
Both local health departments offer the vaccine as well as many pharmacies, supermarkets and big-box discount stores across the state.
Appointments for the shot with the Weber-Morgan Health Department can be made by calling 801-399-8814. Davis County Health Department has two clinics available. The Clearfield clinic, 22 S. State St., is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the Bountiful/Woods Cross clinic, 596 W. 750 South, Woods Cross on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the same hours. No appointment is necessary.