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Our View: ’Tis the season to get flu shots

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

Every once in awhile, we’ll hear someone say, “I never used to get a flu shot, until the time I got the flu.”

It’s a telling comment. But there’s a simple way to ensure you don’t have to be the person who makes it next year.

Now is the time to think about when and where to get this year’s seasonal flu vaccine.

State and local health officials say flu season generally begins in October, peaks in January or February and continues through May.

But it generally takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine for antibodies to build up in the body.

Everyone is susceptible to influenza, which annually costs employers $6.2 billion in lost productivity and billions more in medical costs. It also causes a lot of suffering for those who contract it, causing body aches, fatigue, chills and general misery for days, if not a week or more.

For some, it can be deadly. The flu kills anywhere from 3,000 people in a mild year to 49,000 in a severe one.

About 90 percent of those for whom the flu proves fatal are older than 65. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone older than six months be vaccinated.

Locally, the vaccine is widely available. In addition to family physicians, many drugstores offer walk-in clinics. A directory of locations where the vaccine is available is at flushot.healthmap.org.

The DeKalb County Health Department also offers walk-in flu clinics for adults beginning Thursday and continuing each Thursday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. Clinics for children begin Oct. 18 during the same hours.

More information about the clinic schedule and the vaccine is available at the health department’s website, www.dekalbcountyhealthdepartment.org.

There is more you can do to prevent the spread of the flu than just getting a flu shot. Health officials recommend practicing the “3 Cs”: Clean your hands, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and contain your germs by staying home if you get sick.

It’s also important to remember that if you become sick, you can spread the virus for days afterward.

But you can skip the whole ordeal of getting sick by simply getting a flu shot before the season begins.

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