January 15, 2011

Why Should You Get a Flu Shot

Popp, CarlaBy Carla Popp, RN, BSN, MBA
Trinity VNHA
Executive Director, Private Duty & Community Services

Flu season in the Quad Cities region typically begins about mid-December every year. For the week ending December 11th, the CDC reported seasonal flu activity in Illinois and Iowa as local, meaning that there are some lab confirmed cases of the flu. Influenza is a respiratory disease and the most common symptoms include fever, cough, malaise, headache, and sore throat. According to the CDC, the best protection against the flu is a flu shot. Good hand washing and staying away from others who are sick are also smart habits to practice during flu season.

The flu shot has an inactivated vaccine that contains the three influenza viruses that are recommended for this year. The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated) so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the vaccination and lasts up to a year.

Each year you should plan to get a flu shot in October or November if possible. If this is not possible vaccination in December and beyond is still beneficial. Influenza illness can occur anytime from November through May. Most cases throughout the country usually occur in January or February. Remember to check on when the flu season occurs in other parts of the world if you plan to travel abroad.

People that are at high risk for influenza should receive their vaccination in October or sooner when possible. High risk individuals include health care workers, children 6 months to 5 years old, anyone over 50 years old, women who are pregnant during flu season, anyone with long-term health problems and their caregivers, anyone living in dormitories, residents of nursing homes or other chronic-care facilities.

On average 226,000 people are hospitalized every year because of influenza, and 36,000 die, mostly elderly. About 20,000 of those hospitalized each year for flu and flu like symptoms are school-aged children. Did you know that 22 million school days are missed each school year because of influenza? And that parents miss 10 million work days a year to care for their kids who are sick with the flu?

Trinity VNHA continues to administer flu shots at their VNHA office for anyone 9 years or older by appointment. Flu shots will be provided at no cost to those providing documentation of Medicare Part B and $35.00 cash/check/credit card for everyone else.

Pneumonia shots are also available by appointment and are no cost to Medicare B beneficiaries or $55 cash/check/credit card. Flu Mist will also be available at the office for $40.00 each. The VNHA office is located at 106 19th Ave, Ste 101 in Moline. For any further questions or to make an appointment for a shot, please contact Penny Knox, Clinics Coordinator at 779-7216.

If you would like more information on any of the services we offer, please contact us by calling 309-779-7600 or toll-free at 800-654-2720. You can also visit us on the web at www.trinityqc.com/vnha. If you are interested in having a Trinity representative speak at your organization about Trinity VNHA services, please contact Carla Popp at 309-779-7403 or by
e-mail at PoppCJ@ihs.org.

Carla Popp is Executive Director, Private & Community Services with Trintiy Visiting Nurse & Homecare Association. She can be reached at 309-779-7403 or at PoppCJ@ihs.org