Vaccine clinics set as flu season starts
The Morgan County Health Department has scheduled its seasonal flu immunization clinics and has tips for staying well during flu season.
There have been no confirmed cases of the flu yet in Morgan County.
Two all-day flu clinics will be held at the Health Department, said Health Department administrative consultant Lee Fowler. The first clinic is set for Thursday, October 4 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The second flu clinic will be on Friday, October 12 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Morgan County Schools employees in Berkeley Springs are encouraged to come after-school for their flu shot at their extended hours clinic on October 4, Fowler said.
Health Department personnel will be giving flu vaccines at the Paw Paw Senior Center on Wednesday, October 10 at 9 a.m. Afterwards, they’ll head to Paw Paw Schools to administer flu shots to school employees, Fowler said.
They’ll also be giving flu shots to Morgan County Courthouse and Citizen National Bank employees on Friday, October 12. Health Department staff will also administer shots to Caperton Furniture employees, but a date has not yet been set.
Call for appointment
Call 304-258-1513 for a flu clinic appointment. If no clinics work for someone’s schedule, call to arrange an appointment during regular business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
This year’s flu vaccine includes an H1N1 Type A Influenza virus, an H3N2 Type A Influenza virus and a Type B Influenza virus.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone over the age of six months to protect against influenza.
It also advises that it’s important for those who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza like pneumonia to get a flu shot. That includes people with asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, pregnant women and household contacts and caregivers of those at high risk.
Don’t get flu shot early
Fowler emphasized that the Health Department doesn’t feel people should get flu shots too early. They like to offer flu clinics in October.
It generally takes two weeks to build full immunity after getting a flu shot, Fowler noted. The immunity lasts for around three months and then starts to wear off. If people get their flu shots in August, come December through March, they’re not protected unless they get another flu shot.
There have been three cases of the H3N2 variant flu virus (H3N2v) in West Virginia this year. It is a variant of swine flu (Influenza A) that generally circulates in pigs. The viruses are called variants when they spread from swine to humans. They don’t usually spread from human to human.
While the H3N2v flu symptoms are often mild like seasonal flu, fatalities can occur. H1N1v, H3N2v and H1N2v have been detected in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The CDC recommends that anyone at high risk of complications from influenza avoid contact with pigs and any swine areas at fairs and festivals.
That includes children under five years of age, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and weakened immune systems.
Advice to the general public was to not take food or drink into pig arenas or drink, eat or put anything into your mouth there. Also don’t take baby toys, bottles, pacifiers and other baby items into pig arenas.
Wash hands with running soap and water or use hand sanitizer after exposure to pigs.
Centers for Disease Control recommendations for protection against seasonal flu and the H3N2 variant are similar.
Wash your hands
To protect against influenza, Fowler stressed frequent hand washing and covering one’s coughs and sneezes, “but not with your hands.”
Cough and sneeze into your arm or onto a disposable tissue and then wash your hands.
If washing hands at a sink isn’t possible, use a hand sanitizer.
Stay home if you’re running a fever. If it lasts more than 48 hours, see a doctor, he said. If it’s viral, it will run its course in 24 to 48 hours. A cold will last seven to 10 days.
If you have an extremely high fever, see your doctor as soon as possible, Fowler said.
Practice good hygiene when around livestock or when outdoors. Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes and nose with your hands.
Get your annual flu vaccination.
“We need to be conscientious during flu season about personal hygiene,” Fowler noted.