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The Flu Fighters

Vaccine, health care professionals ready for season

October 3, 2010
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

It's that time of year again, when people start getting their flu shots.

Unlike last flu season, most people will not need to get two flu vaccines to protect themselves from swine and seasonal flu.

Fulton County Public Health Director Denise Frederick said the only reason H1N1, or swine flu, was not included in the seasonal flu shot last year was because it appeared too late for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Nurse Sally Clemente, left, employee health
infection control coordinator at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, gives hospital employee Brittany Stewart a flu shot at the hospital on Thursday.

This year, the seasonal flu vaccination will protect people from three strains of the flu - swine flu, an H3N1 virus and an influenza B virus.

"There is just one shot needed this year," Frederick said.

Last flu season, there was concern about the availability of the vaccine for swine flu. That led to certain groups of people - such as children and pregnant women - taking priority in getting the shot.

Frederick said as of Wednesday, the CDC was not expecting any shortage of the flu vaccine and it is not necessary to prioritize who gets the shot first.

The CDC also is recommending all people over six months of age get the flu shot.

Frederick said that has not normally been the recommendation in previous years. In many cases, just high-risk groups were suggested to get the flu shot.

However last year, the swine flu hit many groups that were not considered high risk.

"As we learned last year, you can't always predict how the flu will affect certain groups," Frederick said.

Dr. Arun Nandi, emergency room director for St. Mary's Hospital in?Amsterdam, underscored the importance of getting the flu vaccine by noting that while the swine flu pandemic is over, that does not mean isolated cases of the disease will be absent.

Nurse Sally Clemente, employee health infection control coordinator at Nathan Littauer Hospital, said Thursday about 300 hospital employees had been vaccinated for the flu in two days.

She said many employees have come to her ahead of time this year to ask about getting vaccinated.

The CDC is recommending people get the flu vaccine as early as possible.

Frederick said that also relates to last flu season, when officials saw it get an early start compared to previous years.

Clemente said the hospital is required to ask if patients have had the flu shot and if they would like to get one. If the patient meets the required criteria, they can receive the flu vaccination on the day they are discharged.

Both Frederick and Clemente said a person does not necessarily have to talk to their doctor before getting a flu shot. If a person is visiting their doctor, Frederick said, they should probably inquire about getting a flu shot.

Clemente said it is possible some people had swine flu last year and were not aware of it. While many people had a fever after getting swine flu, some did not.

Irregardless, even if people had swine flu last year or got the vaccine for it, they should also get it this year, she said.

Frederick said as of Wednesday, no flu cases had been reported in the area. However, she said, it was still very early in the flu season.

Nandi said the most important thing people can do is to take simple precautions, such as remembering to wash their hands and staying home if they get sick.

He also said when people get sick, it is important for them to remember they can receive help from a doctor.

Clemente said Nathan Littauer Hospital will provide flu shots right through flu season until April 1.

The Fulton County Public Health department has scheduled its clinic for Oct. 25 to 29.

Nandi suggested people visit the CDC website?- - for more information.



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