Due to the last minute weather related change in venue and the lack of turn out for our October 2nd flu shot clinic, we have added another clinic date in the Thayne area. On Friday, October 30th, we will return to the Thayne Community Center to give flu shots from 1:00 p.m. until 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!
News from the Wyoming Department of Health
Following an unusually severe 2014-15 influenza season, Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) officials want residents to prepare for the upcoming flu season with annual influenza vaccinations.
“While influenza is something we see every year, it should never be overlooked or just accepted as no big deal. Flu can often be a very serious illness and, sometimes, deadly, as we saw last year,” said Dr. Wendy Braund, state health officer and WDH Public Health Division senior administrator.
Reggie McClinton, a WDH epidemiologist, said there can be no question the 2014-15 influenza season was severe. “Sadly, we saw 29 influenza-associated deaths reported in Wyoming. This represents the highest number our state has seen in many, many years. We also had a high number of reported cases overall compared to usual.”
McClinton noted the median age for residents who died was 75 with 21 of the reported deaths occurring in people older than 65; one death reported in a child; and others among adults under 65.
Braund said almost everyone six months or older should get a seasonal flu vaccine each year. “Getting a flu vaccine is safe and is the most important action people can take to help prevent getting ill with influenza and avoid passing it on to others,” she said.
“Predicting which flu strains will be most common in a given year is complicated and sometimes strains can ‘mutate’ or change. Last season’s vaccine was not as effective as we would have liked,” Braund said. “Vaccination remains a useful prevention strategy and at this point there is no reason to expect a problem with this season’s vaccines. Wyoming residents should not use the troubles with last season’s vaccine as an excuse to avoid this season’s vaccination.”
It takes about two weeks for flu vaccines to offer protection. “We don’t want people to wait until folks around them are ill,” Braund said. “We’ve already seen the beginning of early activity.”
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches.
Braund said, “Anyone can get the flu. Healthy folks can recover. But they can also spread the virus to others who are more vulnerable to flu and its effects such as older residents, young children and those with certain medical conditions. That’s why the vaccine is recommended for just about everyone.”
Influenza vaccines are available in many locations, including local public health offices, workplaces, doctors’ offices and retail stores. “Flu vaccines are not expensive and most insurance policies cover the costs,” Braund said.
In Wyoming, the cost of the vaccine itself is covered for many children by federal funding and the vaccine program for those eligible is managed by WDH. Children who qualify include those covered by Medicaid, uninsured children, American Indian or Alaska native children and some children considered to be underinsured.
Basic common-sense measures can also slow the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases. These steps include covering your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a tissue when you sneeze and cough; frequently washing your hands; and staying home from work, school, day care and errands when ill.
Prices for our services are set to change on October 1st. At that time we will begin charging an administration fee of $20 for all vaccine/vaccine components given. The cost of the vaccine themselves provided under the Vaccines for Children & Vaccines for Uninsured Adults is still $0. We accept Medicare, Medicaid, and some private insurances. We are contracted, in network providers for Blue Cross Blue Shield and WinHealth. We are working on contracting with United Healthcare but are not considered in network providers for this insurance company as of right now. We will post an announcement once that process is completed. If you have United Healthcare, please check your insurance plan to see if they will cover services provided by out of network providers before asking us to bill your services to United Healthcare. If they don’t allow you to use out of network providers, they may not cover services we provide to you.
Starting October 1st, we will also be implementing a sliding scale fee if you can’t afford the full administration fee. Please check out the fee update on each of our services pages on October 1st for up to date information on our costs.
Inability to pay will NOT prevent you from receiving services. If you cannot pay for services, we will not deny them to you.
If so, consider donating them to the Wyoming Medication Donation program. Visit the Medication Donation page to find out how to donate medication or see how you might be able to apply for prescription assistance.
Flu clinics are just around the corner. Before you know it, October will be here and we’ll be administering flu shots. If you’d like a little faster service at our clinics, please visit the flu shots page to find a downloadable PDF copy of our consent form. Bring it to the clinic of your choice along with your insurance cards.
Lincoln County Public Health’s flu shot clinic schedule is now up. Visit the flu shots page to find out where we will be giving flu shots in the community this year!
We will also have flu shots available in our offices as long as a nurse is available to give them. Appointments are preferable, but you can also call prior to walking in to make sure there is a nurse available. Flu shots are $25. We accept cash, check, credit card (pending internet access), Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance. Bring your cards with you.
With the local wildfire season now active, health officials encourage potentially affected Wyoming residents to be mindful of the potential health effects caused by wildfire smoke.
“Obviously, everyone knows to avoid flames when near a blaze,” said Dr. Tracy Murphy, Wyoming Department of Health state epidemiologist. “But that’s not the only danger. Wildfire smoke can hurt your eyes, aggravate respiratory problems and worsen the symptoms of heart or lung disease.”
“Everyone should use common sense when their local air is smoky and avoid heavy outdoor exercise,” Murphy said. “Those at-risk should be especially careful in limiting their smoke exposure.”
Murphy said people who have pre-existing heart and respiratory conditions, including allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are especially susceptible to wildfire smoke’s ill effects. Older adults are more likely to be affected because they are more likely to have heart or lung disease, and children are vulnerable because their airways are still developing and because they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.
Murphy said people staying indoors because of wildfire smoke should keep indoor air as clean as possible and offered the following suggestions:
*Try to keep windows and doors closed.
* Keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean if you run an air conditioner.
* Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
*When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces or gas stoves.
*Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home.
*Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
Are your pre-teens and teens up to date on their immunizations? We might forget that after children receive their kindergarten shots that are required for school registration that booster shots are still necessary. Parents can do a number of things to ensure a healthy future for their child. One of the most important actions parents can take is to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines. Following the recommended immunization schedule provides the best protection from serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.
Preteens and teens need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine, quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine to protect against serious diseases. A yearly flu vaccine is also recommended for all children 6 months and older. Preteens and teens need vaccines because they are at greater risk for certain diseases like meningitis, septicemia (blood infection), and the cancers caused by HPV infection. By making sure vaccines are up to date, parents can send their preteens and teens to middle school and high school – and also off to college – with protection from vaccine-preventable diseases. Being vaccinated not only helps protect adolescents from getting certain diseases like the flu and whooping cough (pertussis), it also helps stop the spread of these diseases to others in their family, classroom and community. This is especially important to help protect babies too young to be fully vaccinated, people age 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer, heart disease or other health conditions.
Check out our Immunization Schedules page for an easy to read, updated vaccination schedule for pre-teens and teens.
HPV is cancer prevention.
- HPV is short for human papillomavirus. HPV is a life-saving vaccine that protects against cervical and anal cancers and other diseases caused by HPV. Preteens and teens need the HPV vaccine now to prevent HPV cancers later.
- About 79 million people in the U. S., most in their teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV.
- HPV vaccine is recommended by CDC and major medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and) and other medical societies, for 11 or 12 year olds, for protection from HPV infection and HPV-related disease. For teens who have not started the series at 11 or 12 years, it’s not too late and can still be beneficial to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
- HPV vaccine works best when it is given to boys and girls at age 11 or 12 years. Also preteens need to complete the HPV vaccines series prior to any exposure to HPV. That’s why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years—the idea is true prevention.
- Either HPV vaccine (Cervarix® or Gardasil®) can be given to girls or young women. Only one HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) can be given to boys and young men.
- The HPV vaccine has a very good safety record. More than 67 million doses have been distributed, and vaccine safety studies continue to show that HPV vaccines are safe.
- Take advantage of any visit to the doctor – checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or college – to ask the doctor about what shots your preteens and teens need.
- For more information about HPV and HPV vaccine: www.cdc.gov/hpv
Influenza: Get the flu vaccine every year.
- The single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine, which protects against different strains of seasonal influenza.
- Everyone 6 months and older – including preteens and teens – should get a flu vaccine every year, both to protect themselves and to help keep illness from spreading.
- Children under the age of 9 may require more than one dose. Talk to your child’s health care professional to find out if they need more than one dose.
- Flu vaccine protects against flu and the other health problems flu can cause, like dehydration (loss of body fluids), which can make asthma or diabetes worse, or even pneumonia.
- Children should get the flu vaccine every year as soon as it’s available, usually in the fall. It is very important for children with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy children.
- Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Annual flu vaccination should begin by September or as soon as vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January, February or later.
- It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop for protection against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
- Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
- A 2013 study by CDC flu experts estimated that cumulatively over six flu seasons, from 2005 to 2011, flu vaccination averted approximately 13.6 million illnesses, 5.8 million medical visits, and approximately 112,900 flu-related hospitalizations in the U. S.
For more information: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/flu.html
Tdap: Help keep whooping cough from spreading.
- Tdap vaccine is a booster recommended at age 11 or 12 to protect against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough). It is also recommended for any teens (13 to 18 years old) who haven’t had this shot yet.
- The Tdap vaccine takes the place of what used to be called the tetanus booster.
- If your child has not received any or all of the DTaP vaccine series, or if you don’t know if your child has received these shots, your child needs a single dose of Tdap when they are 7 to 10 years old. Talk to your health care professional to find out if they need additional catch-up vaccines.
- Tdap vaccine is especially important for older children and adults who will have close contact with newborn babies or infants younger than 1 year.
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are all caused by bacteria.
- Both diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person.
- Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds.
- Data show that more than 48,000 cases of pertussis occurred in 2012, a nearly 60-year high. While overall reporting of pertussis declined during 2013, 13 states and Washington, D.C. reported an increase in pertussis cases compared with the same time during 2012.
- CDC’s current estimate is that Tdap vaccination protects about 65 out of 100 adolescents who receive it.
- Tdap is an effective vaccine, but it does not protect as well as we would like and may only protect against whooping cough for a few years.
Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine: Protection against meningococcal disease.
- The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) is recommended for all preteens at age 11 or 12 for protection against some of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. The two most severe and common illnesses caused by meningococcal disease are meningitis (an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord) and septicemia (a bloodstream infection).
- Meningitis can be very serious, even fatal.
- A second shot is recommended for teens at age 16 to continue providing protection when their risk for meningococcal disease is highest.
- Teens who didn’t receive meningococcal conjugate vaccine for the first time until age 13 through 15 years will also need a second dose at 16.
- Older teens who haven’t received any meningococcal conjugate vaccine shots should get one as soon as possible.
- If your teenager missed getting the vaccine altogether, ask his or her health care professional about getting it now, especially if your teenager is about to move into a college dorm or military barracks.
For more information about the meningococcal conjugate vaccine: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/mcv.html
So inform yourself during this back to school season and make the best choice for your children’s health. Lincoln County Public Health carries all recommended and required vaccines for school children. Give us a call at 885-9598 (Afton) or 877-3780 (Kemmerer) to ask questions or make an appointment for your child.
All the information and infographics in this blog post are courtesy of the National Public Health Information Coalition and by the Center for Disease Control.
Did you know that worldwide approximately 240 million people have chronic Hepatitis B? The infection causes an estimated 780,000 deaths worldwide every year. Hepatitis B is spread via bodily fluids and can be prevented with a series of three vaccines.
July 28th is World Hepatitis Awareness Day. Visit the CDC’s website for information on the disease, how it is spread, screening for the disease (especially screening of pregnant women in order to prevent perinatal transmission), and how effective the vaccine is.
Public Health in both Afton and Kemmerer offer the Hepatitis B vaccine for children and adults. We carry the Wyoming Department of Health’s Vaccines for Children program vaccine available to all Wyoming resident children ages 0 to 18 years regardless of insurance status. The vaccine itself is free of charge and can be obtained for an administration fee of $10 per dose (fee is negotiable in cases of economic hardship). It is a required vaccination for children to attend school in Wyoming. We also carry Hepatitis B vaccine for adults. If you are a Wyoming resident aged 19 years or older and are uninsured or have an insurance that does not cover immunizations, you are eligible for the Wyoming Department of Health’s Vaccines for Uninsured Adults program. We can give that vaccine to you for an administration fee of $15 (fee is negotiable in cases of economic hardship). If you are an adult aged 19 years and older who has insurance that covers vaccines, we can provide the Hepatitis B vaccines series for $45 per shot (the entire 3 shot series costs $135). We are able to bill: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicare, Medicaid, EBMS, First Health Network, CIGNA, United Healthcare, and WinHealth. Our offices also provides screening for Hepatitis B in the form of a blood draw that is sent to the Wyoming Health Department lab that will test for immunity/exposure to Hepatitis B. The cost for those titers is $45. To make an appointment for vaccines or titers, call Afton at 885-9598 or Kemmerer at 877-3780.
Public Health welcomes Toni Sudonick to our Kemmerer office family! She is our new administrative assistant and we are very happy to have her!