“The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) will begin its annual flu/pneu campaign on September 22,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “It is important to remember, when you get your flu shot, you not only protect yourself from the flu but you also avoid spreading it to others.”
Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who is also the Chairperson of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, pointed out the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are that anyone over the age of 6 months receives a flu shot. Freeholder Vicari added, “We would like everyone over the age of 6 months to get their flu shot and we also know how devastating the flu can be on older adults. The Ocean County Health Department is offering flu/pneu shots in many of our older adult communities to make it easier to access these important immunizations.”
Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator, stated, “Influenza is contagious and caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions.
Symptoms usually last only a few days in most people and may include: fever, cough, sore throat, headaches, chills, muscle aches and fatigue. There are other illnesses with the same symptoms and are often mistaken for flu,” said Regenye. He continued, “Infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people that have certain health conditions, such as lung, heart or kidney disease or those with a weakened immune system, can get much sicker if they have the flu. There are thousands of deaths each year due to seasonal flu and even more require hospitalization. Vaccination is extremely important for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases.”
Regenye continued, “The 2014-2015 flu shot campaign will offer 3 choices for flu vaccination, which include:
Regular dose for all people 6 month age and older – this is an injection into the muscle of the upper arm. This vaccine gives good protection from severe disease.
High-dose for people 65 years of age and older – this is a newer vaccine, available for the last four years, which is designed to provide a higher immunity level for those 65 years of age or older. This age group is at a higher risk of sever consequences if they get the flu.
Intradermal for people 18-64 years of age- this vaccine is injected just beneath the skin of the upper arm with a needle that is 90% smaller than the needle used for the “regular” vaccination. It provides the same protection as other flu vaccines for this age group. You may get a “mosquito bite-like” reaction in the skin from this vaccine.
It is important for people to know that although flu shots give good protection against the flu, you can still get the flu, although the flu vaccination should lessen the severity of the illness. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Leslie Terjesen, OCHD Public Information Officer, said that the pneumococcal vaccine or the pneu shot, is important for all people 65 years of age and older to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, a common cause of severe pneumonia in the age group. People who have the flu may also be more susceptible to infection with the bacteria that can cause this pneumonia.
Terjesen added there will be over 50 public flu/pneu clinics in numerous municipalities throughout Ocean County. Medicare Part B covers the cost of a flu and pneu shot. For those without Medicare Part B or have a Medicare Managed Care Plan, the cost will be $20.00. A physician’s note or prescription is required for a pneumonia shot for those under the age of 65.
Flu shots for both adults and children will be offered at the same time in addition to the different types of vaccines. “It is important to get your children vaccinated against flu; the rates of infection are highest among children. In addition, all children from six months to 59 months who attend any licensed child care or preschool facility must be vaccinated against flu between September 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.
During this year’s flu/pneu clinics, additional Health Department services will be offered. LIVE HEALTHY OCEAN COUNTY will be offered at several of the flu/pneu sites. As part of this program, you will be able to get a blood pressure reading, osteoporosis screening and a stroke risk assessment. In addition, other adult immunizations will be available, including the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and Shingles.
For more information about flu shots, location and times of clinics, call the OCHD at 732-341-9700, ext. 7515, visit the OCHD website at www.ochd.org