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Just like students filing into the classrooms after a long summer away, the flu virus is back. It’s time to stop talking about “Flu Season” as if it’s far off in the future. September is the beginning of the formal flu season, and September is National Preparedness Month.
This year, fighting the flu is a little different. For one, there is a new way to get vaccinated this year, and it’s perfect for those who don’t like shots.
Fluzone Intradermal® is a new vaccine that was just licensed for use in the US by the FDA a few months ago. It is a shot that uses a needle 90 percent smaller than the needles used for regular flu shots, according to the Center for Disease Control. The shot is administered into the skin instead of the muscle, as in regular shots, though it works with the body the same way.
Fluzone is only available for individuals 18 through 64 years of age, so for youngsters who don’t like needles, parents may want to try FluMist®, the nasal spray flu vaccine that was approved by the FDA in 2007. The nasal spray is available for individuals 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
The Walgreens on the Southwest corner of Providence and Broadway have already begun administering both regular flu shots and the new Fluzone shot. According to a pharmacist on duty, that location was administering about 10 shots per day as of last week. Patients may walk in any time for the shot or schedule an appointment online.
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health, located at 1005 West Worley will offer the nasal spray and regular flu shots for $25-30 beginning soon. They have not yet announced when they will start administering the vaccine, but they will announce it on their website and on Twitter and Facebook when they do.
Boone County and University hospital will also be administering shots. Each of these locations will also offer the H1N1 flu shot. This shot, which costs around $18 depending on where it’s given, can be administered at the same time as the regular flu shot. Individuals who opt for the nasal spray vaccine will have to wait four weeks to get the H1N1 shot however.
Other locations offering flu shots include each Walmart location in Columbia.
It is a common misconception that getting vaccinated early will result in the vaccine waning toward the end of the flu season, which can be as late as May. The vaccine will protect for the entire length of the season, which is why the CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the shots are available. This is also good advice for avoiding long wait lines at convenience clinics like Walgreens and Walmart.
About 15 to 60 million Americans die from regular seasonal forms of influenza every year, according to the CDC. Of that number, an estimated 36,000 die from the flu. 3,083 Missourians died from the flu or pneumonia during the 2010-2011 flu season. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated every year.
A statewide toll-free hotline has been set up for any public questions about the flu. That number is 1-800-447-1985.
What do you think? Are you going to try the new flu shot this year?
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