New “triple protection” vaccination now available in ample quantities
(ASPEN, CO) – Pitkin County Community Health holds its first Flu Shot Clinics of the season in Aspen and Snowmass this week and, unlike last year at this time, there is no shortage of either seasonal flu or H1N1 vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are recommending that everyone aged 6 months of age and older get a flu shot this year. The good news is that not only is there plenty of vaccine available for everyone but one shot will offer protection for three strains of influenza. Global health officials have identified last year’s pandemic strain H1N1, seasonal influenza B, and a strain identified as H3N2 as the most likely to cause illness this season and thus be used in the vaccine.
“We anticipate a normal flu season,” said Director of Pitkin County Community Health Services, Liz Stark. “We hope our local population will continue to make getting a flu shot a priority. The flu is a serious illness and vaccination is the best way to prevent it.” Stark said.
The CDC estimates as many as 36,000 people in the United States die from the flu each year. Unlike the common cold, the flu can make people very sick with fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, extreme tiredness, cough, runny nose and sometimes stomach symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
An outbreak of H1N1 that began in Mexico in the spring of 2009 became a global pandemic. There were four H1N1 hospitalizations of Pitkin County residents between August 2009 and May 2010. All local patients recovered from the illness. Community Health Services received 6,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine during the pandemic. Of that number, 2,400 H1N1 vaccinations were administered by Community Health. The rest of the vaccine was distributed to local health care providers. A major public educational outreach campaign was conducted resulting in record numbers of locals receiving flu shots. The pandemic was declared officially over in August 2010.
“Fortunately the H1N1 virus overall didn’t become as virulent as health officials feared,” Stark said. “We think it helped raise awareness about influenza in general which we hope will translate into more and more people getting vaccinated. We cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to be vaccinated every year for whatever strains of flu there are out there – especially pregnant women, the very young and the very old.”
Community Health Services will be administering flu shots at Snowmass Village Town Hall on Tuesday, October 12th from 2pm to 6pm. Flu shots will be available in Aspen at the Health and Human Services building on Tuesday, October 19th from 12 pm to 6 pm. Shots are $20 for adults/$10 for children. Flumist is $30 for adults/$10 for children. Only cash or checks may be accepted. No credit cards. Additional clinics will be scheduled in November. For more information call Community Health Services at 970-920-5420. Flu shots are also available at most “big box” pharmacies. More information about the flu is available at www.flu.gov.