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October 14, 2009 > Avoid Seasonal Influenza by Getting a Vaccination

Avoid Seasonal Influenza by Getting a Vaccination

Washington Urgent Care and W.O.W. Mobile Health Clinic Offer Flu Shots

Fall is here and so is flu season. If you don't want to get sick with influenza, you should get a flu shot. The flu vaccine will protect you from seasonal influenza, but not the H1N1 flu virus. You will need to get a separate vaccination to protect against that strain.

"It's just so important to get a flu shot," said Ruth Traylor, director of Community Outreach at Washington Hospital. "To protect yourself, your friends, your loved ones, and your coworkers, from getting sick with the flu."

Seasonal influenza is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It can cause mild to severe illness, and can lead to death. Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Anyone over the age of 6 months old should get a flu shot, according to Dr. Sarkis Banipalsin, medical director at Washington Urgent Care. He said it is strongly recommended for those at risk for complications, including:
* Children ages 6 months to 19 years old
* Pregnant women
* People 50 years of age and older
* People with certain chronic or multiple medical conditions
* Health care workers
* Those who live with people at high risk for complications
* Caregivers of children under 6 months old


Prevention Starts Now

The best time to get your flu shot is now until December, according to the CDC. The flu season generally runs from November through April, so that allows the protective antibodies to get in place before flu activity is typically at its highest.

The flu shot contains three seasonal flu viruses that cause your body to build up antibodies capable of fighting off those strains if you come into contact with them. The viruses are inactivated or killed, so you can't get the flu from a flu shot, according to the CDC.

Flu viruses spread from person to person when people who are sick with the flu cough or sneeze, according to Banipalsin. The viruses get on surfaces like door handles and counter tops. When people touch these surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes, they can get the virus, he explained.

It's also important to practice good hand hygiene and proper cough precautions, Banipalsin said. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. If you do get sick, cough into the crook of your elbow.

Antiviral treatments are available if you get the flu. However, they are not recommended if you are otherwise healthy, Banipalsin said. If you have a chronic condition, a compromised immune system, or are at risk for complications, you should consult your healthcare provider to determine if an antiviral is recommended, he added.

"Get a flu vaccine and stay healthy by getting plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid contact with others who are ill," Banipalsin said.
Get Your Flu Shot

You can get your flu shot at Washington Urgent Care and the Washington on Wheels Mobile Health Clinic. Washington Urgent Care is located at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Suite 212, and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. No appointment is necessary at either place and the cost is $25. Washington Urgent Care will courtesy bill most insurance companies.

The flu shot is available at the W.O.W. Mobile Health Clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following times and locations:
* Fremont Senior Center, 40086 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont, first Friday of each Month.
* Newark Community Center, 35501 Cedar Boulevard, Newark, second Thursday of each month.
* Family Resource Center, 39155 Liberty Street, Fremont, second Monday of each month.
* Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City, fourth Monday of each month.

For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu. To learn more about services offered by Washington Hospital, visit www.whhs.com.

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