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MHP Offers Seasonal Flu Shot Clinics
With flu season upon us, MHP Community Health has planned a number of flu vaccination clinics to help protect you and your family.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the flu is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
MHP Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy, RN, said MHP Community Health will be hosting Walk-in Vaccination Clinics on Mondays from 8:00 to 11:30 am and 1:00 to 5:30 pm, starting Oct. 4. On Thursdays, the clinic will be open from 8:00 to 11:30 am and 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
“We wanted to accommodate working families and families with school aged children, so we are staying open later on Mondays,” Malloy said. “We will also be having two drive-thru flu shot clinics which are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Nov. 13. The drive-thru clinics will occur on the MHP campus in the parking lot of Mahaska Health West from 7 am to Noon.”
According to Malloy, the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. There are two types of vaccines:
• The “flu” shot- an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
• The nasal-spray flu vaccine- a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu, (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people, 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Malloy said that 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 and whether they match the viruses in the vaccine.
“Last flu season, we had the H1N1 influenza virus, also known as H1N1 Novel or swine flu,” Malloy said. “It caused the first influenza pandemic (global outbreak of disease caused by a new flu virus) in more than 40 years. While not certain, it is likely that H1N1 viruses will continue to spread along with seasonal viruses this flu season.
“However, this season’s flu vaccination protects against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last flu season.”
Malloy said that in general, everyone who wants to reduce the chances of getting the flu should get vaccinated. However, there are certain populations of people that should definitely get vaccinated each year because they are in a higher risk group of having serious flu-related complications. Also those who live with or care for someone in high risk group can protect that loved one by getting the flu shot for their self.
According to the IDPH, people who are considered higher risk and should get vaccinated each year are:
• Children age 6 months through 18 years
• Pregnant women
• People 50 years of age and older
• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
• Healthcare workers
• People who live with or care for persons at high risk for complications from the flu
• People who live with or care for children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
• People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
• People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
• People who previously developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine
• Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group)
• People who have a moderate to severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen
For more information regarding flu vaccination clinics or if you or someone you know is homebound and may need assistance with getting a flu shot, call MHP Community Health at 641-673-3257 or visit the MHP website, mahaskahealth.org.