“The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) will begin to administer seasonal flu and pneumonia shots on Monday, September 17th. The first clinic will be held at the main site of the Ocean County Health Department, 175 Sunset Avenue, Toms River, from 10:00 – 12:00 P.M.” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. He added, “Remember, When you get your flu shot, you not only protect yourself from the flu but can also avoid spreading it to others.”
Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator, stated, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend anyone over the age of 6 months get vaccinated against flu. Influenza is contagious and caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. Symptoms usually last only a few days in most people and may include: fever, cough, sore throat, headaches, chills, muscle aches and fatigue. There are other illnesses with the same symptoms and are often mistaken for flu,” said Regenye. He continued, “Infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people that have certain health conditions, such as lung, heart or kidney disease or those with a weakened immune system, can get much sicker if they have the flu. There are thousands of deaths each year due to seasonal flu and even more require hospitalization. Vaccination is extremely important for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases.”
Regenye continued, “Everyone 6 months of age or older should be vaccinated against the flu. The 2012-2013 flu shot campaign will offer 3 choices for flu vaccination, which are:
Regular dose for all people 6 months of age and older – this is an injection into the muscle of the upper arm. This vaccine gives good protection from severe disease.
High-dose for people 65 year of age and older – this is a newer vaccine, available for the last couple of years, which is designed to provide a higher immunity level for those 65 years of age or older. This age group is at a higher risk of severe consequences if they get the flu.
Intradermal for people 18-64 years of age –this vaccine is given just under the skin of the upper arm with a needle that is 90% smaller than the needle used for the “regular” vaccination.
It provides the same protection as other flu vaccines for this age group. You may get a “mosquito bite-like’ reaction in the skin from this vaccine.
It is important for people to know that although flu shots give good protection against the flu, you can still get the flu, although the flu vaccination should lessen the severity of the illness. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Leslie Terjesen, OCHD Public Information Officer, said that the pneumococcal vaccine or the pneu shot, is important for all people 65 years of age and older to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, a common cause of severe pneumonia in the age group. People who have the flu may also be more susceptible to infection with the bacteria that can cause this pneumonia.
Terjesen added there will be 44 public flu/pneu clinics in 18 municipalities throughout Ocean County. Medicare Part B covers the cost of a flu and pneu shot. For those without Medicare Part B or have a Medicare Managed Care Plan, the cost will be $20.00. A physician’s note or prescription is required for a pneumonia shot for those under the age of 65.
Flu shots for both adults and children will be offered at the same time in addition to the different types of vaccines. “It is important to get your children vaccinated against flu; the rates of infection are highest among children. In addition, all children from six months to 59 months who attend any licensed child care or preschool facility must be vaccinated against flu between September 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.”
For more information about flu shots, locations and times of clinics, call the OCHD at 732-341-9700, ext. 7502 or visit the OCHD website at www.ochd.org.