Individualized flu shots available for everyone

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - December 8, 2013 kicks off the National Influenza Vaccination Week, and the Columbus Health Department is encouraging everybody to get their flu vaccine.

Various studies show that the flu season usually first affects people in Southern and Eastern part of the nation, and spreads throughout the country.

So far in 2013, the Columbus Health Department conducted 2,469 doses of influenza vaccine. About 41 percent of these were done in School Based Flu Clinics. The biggest group of people who were tested positive for the Flu were children ages 0 to 4, while adults who are 65 years old and older showed zero percentage of those who were down with the flu.

"Perhaps there has been some demand for different types of flu vaccines over the past few years," said Pam Fair, the Public Information Officer for the Health Department. "We are seeing more demand for preservative free vaccinations for infants. Maybe the seniors benefit more from high dose vaccination, and of course, many young, healthy individuals prefer the nasal vaccination. It's often known as the nasal mist, because you simply spray the vaccine into people's noses."

Pam Fair explained that infants ages six to 35 months are given preservative free vaccination. For people who are 6 months or older, they can take a basic needle injection vaccine, which is the common flu shot.

People who are two years of age through 49 years of age can receive the nasal vaccination, only if they are in perfect health.

Nasal vaccination holds live virus, thus, people who receive them must be in perfect health. Previous screening before receiving  nasal vaccination is suggested to make sure individuals are in good health. In addition, seniors older than 65 years of age will receive higher doses of flu vaccination.

"I think these various methods of flu vaccines individualizes your flu vaccination experience," Pam Fair said. "It can also allow people to have some choices when getting their flu shots. Centers for Disease Control has put in a lot of time for this research. They study the flu activity the previous year, and looks at what strains of flu was out in the community the most. That is how they determine which strain of flu to put in the new flu vaccination."

This year, flu A stands as the most common strain of flu since September 2, 2013 in the West Central Health District, which Columbus is included in. About 90 percent of people tested for the flu had the Flu A strain.

Pam Fair also recommended for people to wash their hands frequently, and to stay away from people even after they get their flu shots because it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in.

"Best way to avoid the flu is to make sure your hands are clean," Pam Fair explained. "Carry that hand sanitizer with you. If you are sick, then stay home in order to protect your friends and family."

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