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October 11, 2012
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Prepare for influenza season by getting the flu shot soon

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -With flu season fast approaching, vaccines are recommended by the Mesa County Health Department for everyone six months and older."We are encouraging people to get vaccinated now," Mesa County Health Department spokeswoman Karen Martsolf said. "It takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunities and flu activity is low right now, so it makes it a perfect time to get the vaccine."People caring for infants or others in high-risk groups should get their flu shot as soon as possible, Martsolf added. A flu shot will protect "you and those around you" from spreading the flu. People particularly at risk of flu complications include infants, the elderly and people with immune-suppressive issues."I also believe that it is very important for health care workers to get vaccinated," Community Hospital's Vice President of Ancillary Services Debbie Riggle said. "Since a person sheds the flu virus up to 24 hours before having symptoms, it is important that we reduce the possibility that we expose a person who is already challenged to the influenza virus."While Mesa County has experienced October flu cases in the past, it's not a common occurrence."We haven't seen anything really unusual this year," Martsolf said. "The normal season is December through March, with flu peaking in January and February. We haven't had any confirmed cases of influenza yet in Mesa County this year."Flu risks should be taken seriously, however, even early in the season when the likelihood of infection is relatively low. According to the Mesa County Health Department, its 2011-12 winter season resulted in 24 flu-related hospitalizations throughout the area. And during the 2010-11 flu season, the health department reported 34 local hospitalizations and one death.Flu shots and nasal mists are available now at the Mesa County Health Department clinic Monday through Friday at 510 29 1/2 Road on a walk-in basis. The injectable vaccine is $20 and the flu mist is $25, if paid at the time of service. The Mesa County Health Department can also bill most insurance companies for flu vaccines."You cannot get the flu from the shot," Riggle said. "Some people do feel a little tired and sore the next day, however. That's because getting a flu shot is like taking your immune system out for a training run. It helps your immune system to train for the possibility that it will encounter the influenza virus." Martsolf also noted that "it takes no time at all" to get a flu shot at the health department's clinic this early in the season.Flu vaccines are additionally available through primary care providers and many pharmacies found throughout Mesa County.


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The Post Independent Updated Oct 15, 2012 01:26PM Published Oct 11, 2012 05:16PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.