According to Diana Riffle, administrator and nursing director of the Mason County Health Department, the seasonal flu vaccine is now available in Mason County. Like other areas across the state and nation, Mason County received the vaccine earlier than usual this year.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) encourages residents to receive the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it is available. According to Riddle, seasonal flu vaccines are usually administered in mid-October, but due to the early arrival of vaccines, residents can receive their flu vaccine now. She stressed that flu outbreaks can occur as early as October, so receiving the vaccine in September is not too soon. In addition, it takes approximately two weeks from the time the vaccine is administered to develp an immunity.
Vaccines are available at local physicians’ offices and pharmacies as well as the health department. In addition, seasonal flu vaccine clinics will be held at the following locations:
• Mason County Health Department — Sept. 17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
• Ashton Baptist Church — Sept. 20, 1-6 p.m.
• New Haven Community Center — Sept. 21, 1-6 p.m.
• Harmony Baptist Church — Sept. 28, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
• Leon Town Hall — Sept. 28, 2-6 p.m.
Starting on Sept. 30, walk-ins will be accepted at the health department from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
According to Riddle, the composition of the seasonal flu vaccine is developed new each year based on the flu viruses that circulated the previous year. This year, the seasonal flu vaccine contains the 2009 H1N1 vaccine as well as a type of influenza A and B. The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for those ages six months and up, particularly for those with underlying medical conditions that could worsen with the flu.
In addition, those who received the H1N1 flu vaccine last year still need to receive the seasonal flu vaccine this year. According to Riddle, flu vaccines usually last only for the duration of the flu season. Vaccines will be offered at the health department via injection for adults and children. However, children ages 2-18 may receive the nasal form of the vaccine.
The health department encourages residents to protect themselves from seasonal influenza by receiving the vaccine as well as staying home when sick, covering coughs and washing hands regularly.
For more information, call the health department at 304-675-3050.