Monday, September 17, 2012

Preparing for the Seasonal Flu

Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity, and length of the epidemic depends on many factors, including what influenza viruses are spreading, whether they match the viruses in the vaccine, and how many people get the vaccine.

Area residents can protect themselves from the negative effects of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend several precautionary steps.

• Take time to receive the flu vaccination. It helps protect you and those who cannot have the vaccination.
• Take everyday prevention steps to avoid exposure to the virus. These include wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They require a prescription from your healthcare provider. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

Grinnell Regional Public Health will provide vaccination clinics throughout the county during October and November. These are open to the public. See the complete list of locations below.
New this year, a high dose vaccine will be available to individuals over 65. The CDC reports multiple studies conducted have shown that the body’s ability to build an antibody response to a vaccine declines with age.  Therefore, the high dose is recommended and will be available to all individuals 65 and older.

The vaccination is a covered benefit of Medicare and many insurance carriers. Please bring your insurance card at the time of the clinic.

As for predictions on the 2012-2013 season, manufacturers have projected that they will produce between 146 million and 149 million doses of flu vaccine. This should cover needs, based on normal demand. No shortages have been reported. The Flu Vaccine will contain the H1N1 virus which is the same as the 2011-2012. New coverage in the influenza vaccine in 2012/13 includes H3N2 and B viruses.

The CDC recommends that influenza vaccination begin as soon as vaccine becomes available in the community and continue throughout the flu season. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza, and influenza seasons can begin as early as October.

For more information contact Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385 or check the CDC website at

2012 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Clinics
Date          Time                               Location
Oct. 1        2 to 6 p.m.                      Grinnell Athletic and Recreation Center, 1500 Penrose St, Grinnell
Oct. 11      10:30 to 11:30 a.m.        Brookside South, Grinnell
Oct. 15      3 to 6 p.m.                      BGM School, Brooklyn
Oct. 22      3:45 to 6 p.m.                 Grinnell High School, media center
Oct. 25      10 to 11:30 a.m.             Mayflower Community, Carmen Center
Oct. 29      3 to 6 p.m.                      Montezuma School, elementary library
Nov. 1       10 to 11 a.m.                  Seeland Park, Tenplex lobby, Grinnell
Nov. 8       11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.     Grinnell United Methodist Church

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