Although flu season officially begins Oct. 1, flu vaccinations are already available.
Influenza — flu for short — is a respiratory illness that involves symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, extreme tiredness, dry cough, and a stuffy or runny nose, Ottawa County Health Department spokeswoman Shannon Felgner explained.
“The time to get vaccinated is now,” she said. “Vaccinations are now available at most health care providers and pharmacies.”
Dr. Eric Houchin, a primary care physician for North Ottawa Family Practice, said health officials look at prevalent viruses throughout Europe and try to predict which vaccinations might be the most useful here. He said they gauge which might come to the U.S. based on travel.
The vaccinations this year are for the H1N1, H3N2 and the Influenza B-virus strains, Houchin said.
While Felgner said everyone should receive the vaccine, children, senior citizens, pregnant women and people with medical conditions stand a greater chance of complications from the flu. The vaccination isn’t available for infants less than 6 months old because of potential life-threatening complications.
“The vaccine is approved for most people ages 6 months and older,” Felgner said. “Because there is ample supply of vaccine, everyone is encouraged to be vaccinated.”
Felgner said a flu vaccine typically costs $25 to $30 at pharmacies and public clinics, and many insurance companies cover the charge.
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