09/16/11 — Flu vaccines are available, officials say

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Flu vaccines are available, officials say

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 16, 2011 1:46 PM

Vaccines for the upcoming flu season are available, officials say, if people will just take advantage of them.

"We're ready for them, we have got plenty of vaccine," said Debbie Garner, a nurse with the communicable disease program at the Health Department. "We also have that new high-dose for senior citizens 65 and older if they want that."

Goldsboro Pediatrics, which started administering the vaccine last week, offers it in the injectable form or the nasal spray, Dr. David Tayloe said.

He encouraged everyone who is eligible to schedule a flu shot.

"I have never understood, there's a subtle resistance to getting the flu vaccine," he said. "I have never seen (anyone with) a serious reaction."

Although his clientele represents the youngest faction of the population, Tayloe said his message is one of prevention.

"We're trying to protect those people in our community who cannot be immunized," he said. "There are a lot of babies less than 6 months old who cannot get the flu vaccine that are real high risk for complications if they get the flu. The only way to protect these babies -- and there are adults on chemo and the elderly who have poor immune function -- we need to have everybody in the community get the vaccine so that we're less likely to have flu viruses circulating in the community this fall and winter and spring. ...

"A lot of people have family who are on chemo. And the only way you're going to protect the elderly from the flu is to immunize those who come in contact with them."

Excluded from the list of getting the shot, considered more high risk, are pregnant women, children younger than 5 and especially those under 2, those with chronic medical conditions, who live in nursing homes and long-term facilities and anyone who comes in contact with those at risk for complications of the flu, such as caregivers.

There could be many reasons the public is not rushing in for the vaccine. A few years ago, when the vaccine was in short supply, people turned out in droves. Now that it's more plentiful, the sense of urgency is not as great.

Another theory, Ms. Garner said, is, "I think they're thinking it's too early, which it's not. Even if you got a dose in June, I don't know if people realize that -- April, May or June of this year, they can still get another one now.

"We do not know when the flu season is going to start and it takes two weeks after it gets in your system to work."

The vaccine produced this year is the same as that used last year, Tayloe said.

Goldsboro Pediatrics will immunize anyone who is a patient in the practice, he said. The Health Department also has flu clinic hours, with no appointment necessary. The clinic is open Monday through Thursday, 8-11:30 a.m., 1-4:30 p.m.

Insurance companies are billed for the vaccine, Ms. Garner said, or patients can pay out of pocket -- $25 for the regular flu shot, $40 for the high dose. Both contain H1N1, she explained, but the latter contains four times the antigens.