Flu Season

Wyoming Seeing High Level of Influenza Activity

With flu activity reports showing a high level of ill­ness, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is reminding residents of the common-sense steps they can take to avoid spreading influenza or be­coming ill with the disease.

“Reports have been showing high levels of activity across the state for the last few weeks. We don’t know whether we’ve yet reached the peak of activity,” said Clay Van Houten, interim state epidemiologist with WDH.

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.

“Influenza should not be overlooked as a serious threat.  Our public health la­boratory testing is showing that H3N2 is the flu strain circulating around the state and nation,” Van Houten said. “This is concerning because we tend to see more hospitalizations and deaths reported during seasons when this type of flu is dominant, especially among young children and older adults.”

Common-sense measures can help slow or prevent influenza’s spread. “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 you are ill can help,” Van Houten said.

“Vaccines are the most important tool available to help prevent influenza and we know this season’s vaccine includes the strain circulating in Wyoming,” he said. Flu shots are still available in many locations; WDH recommends the vaccine annually for nearly everyone over the age of six months.

Van Houten reminded residents it takes about two weeks for flu vaccines to offer protection. “If you’re exposed to the virus in the meantime, you may still become ill,” he said.

Doctors may recommend prescription antiviral medications to help treat influ­enza.These medications may be especially helpful for persons at higher risk for flu complications such as young children, adults 65 andr older, persons with chronic medical conditions, persons with challenged immune systems, women who are pregnant or soon after delivery, persons less than 19 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy for other conditions, those who are extremely overweight, and residents of nursing homes or other chronic-care facilities.

“For antiviral medications to be a good option, it is important to seek medical care quickly once you start to become ill,” Van Houten advised.

Van Houten said residents who become ill should get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol or tobacco. “You may also take over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms, but should avoid giving prod­ucts containing aspirin to children or teens with flu-like symptoms,” he said.

New Flu Clinic Date

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!

Don’t Overlook Need for Flu Vaccination

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.

 

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Flu Shots!

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.

Flu Shots Are Still Available

Our out of the office clinics are over but we still have flu vaccine available in our offices located in Afton and Kemmerer. Give us a call to make an appointment or call before you come in to see if a nurse is available to give you your shot. We accept Medicare. Medicaid, KidCare Chip, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Winhealth, cash, checks, and credit cards. The cost for Trivalent Fluzone is $20, and we also have a limited amount of Quadrivalent Fluzone for $25. Give us a call in Afton at 885-9598 or in Kemmerer at 877-3780.

Flu Vaccine is In!

Flu shots are now available at the Public Health offices in Afton and Kemmerer.

whoneedsvaccine_red_120x600The vaccine is the standard trivalent (2 A strains and 1 B strain) and is available to all people ages 6 months and up. The cost for a flu vaccine for ages 3 years and up is $20. The cost for a child ages 6 months to 2 years is $10. We accept Medicare, Medicaid, Kidcare Chip, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and most other private insurances. Please bring your cards with you in order to receive your shots. You can call and make an appointment for your shots or walk in as long as a nurse is in to administer the vaccine.

We will have our standard flu shot clinics all through the month of October. Visit the  Flu Shots page for a current schedule of our clinics. Do your part to help keep knock the flu out of our communities – get immunized!

Contact the Kemmerer office at 877-3780 and the Afton office at 885-9598 to make your flu shot appointments.

official flu fighter