The Mason County Health Department expects to receive the seasonal flu vaccine within the next few weeks and have set locations for seasonal flu clinics. The health department is hesitant to release the dates and locations of the clinics until the vaccine actually arrives. Plans are to have ads in the newspaper, radio and on the web site at www.masoncountyhealthdepartment.org.
The seasonal flu vaccine is offered free of charge at the health department. A small amount of children’s vaccine arrived last week and a few doses remain. Residents are advised to call ahead before stopping by the immunization clinics that are offered on from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Thursday, except the second Thursday of the month. Studies have shown that after you receive the vaccine, it takes approximately two weeks for your body to develop an immunity.
Planning for receipt and delivery of the H1N1 vaccine has been ongoing for several weeks. The health department, schools and hospitals have been meeting and planning the best way for delivery of the H1N1 vaccine. The delivery date is unknown, but could be in late October or November. The vaccine will be administered by the health department at several sites around the county to assure that the high risk groups identified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) receive the vaccine first.
With the use of additional staff and volunteers, the health department plans to have clinics that will extend into after hours to accommodate those persons who work during the day. Volunteers and staff were offered training this week at the health department to update them not only on the seasonal flu, but also, the H1N1 flu vaccine.
Ongoing education in the schools and for health care providers continues to provide the most updated information, as well as reminders to prevent the spread of illnesses. Pamphlets on covering your cough, washing your hands and staying home when you are sick, help to deliver the key messages.
The health department continues to monitor influenza-like illnesses from health care providers and the schools. The board of education and the school nurses monitor not only the rate of absenteeism but what symptoms the children and staff are reporting. This helps to determine trends and allows early identification of possible outbreaks, not only of flu, but any illness.
The symptoms of flu include a fever — generally above 100 degrees — cough, sore throat, runny nose, chills, headache and muscle aches. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea is also seen. Not everyone needs to seek medical attention if they have flu-like symptoms.
Most of the symptoms can be taken care at home by monitoring your fever, fluid intake and cough. It is important for parents and employers to plan for additional sick days this fall and to plan for alternate child care.