Health officials recommend that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccination each year.
Health officials are urging everyone 6 months old of age and older to get their annual flu vaccination by end of October.
Pinellas residents can protect themselves from the seasonal flu with one of the vaccines now available at the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County as well as many community clinics in the Tampa Bay area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says plenty of vaccine is available right now and no shortage is anticipated.
According to the CDC, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, so it is important to get your vaccination well before flu season begins. Cases of influenza will increase into the winter season and will traditionally peak during January and February.
In addition to the usual vaccine, other versions available this season include the high-dose immunization recommended for adults older than 65; an intradermal vaccine delivered with a very small, barely-felt needle and one administered in the nostrils as a mist without the need for a needle.
While health officials advocate that everyone older than 6 months get an annual vaccination, there are certain people at higher risk of developing complications if they get the flu. The list includes people age 50 and older with asthma, kidney disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems, as well as pregnant women and people older than 65.
People who care for people or live in households with people on the high-risk list also are urged to get an annual vaccination.
People with a severe allergy to chicken eggs should not get a flu vaccination without talking to their doctor. The same advice goes for anyone who had had a severe reaction to the vaccine or people who have ever had Guillain–Barré Syndrome. People who are sick and running a fever should wait until they are well to get a vaccination.
Another plus for getting a flu vaccination before the end of October is the availability in lots of locations, including pharmacies, walk-in clinics, doctor’s offices and the health department. To find the nearest flu vaccine provider, visit flushot.healthmap.org to search by city or zip code.
DOH-Pinellas provides flu vaccines weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. without an appointment at the following locations:
• St. Petersburg, 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. • Pinellas Park, 6350 76th Ave. N. • Clearwater, 310 N. Myrtle Ave. • Mid-County, 8751 Ulmerton Rd., Largo • Tarpon Springs, 301 S. Disston Ave.
Vaccine prices start at $25 for the regular flu vaccine and go up to $45 for the high-dose version. For more information about DOH-Pinellas, go to www.PinellasHealth.com.
Some people experience side effects from the vaccine, including soreness, redness or swelling on the arm where the shot was given. Some may run a low fever or have aches. Side effects usually last a couple days, and most people experience no problems at all.
Children may experience side effects from the nasal spray, including a runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches and fever. Adults may have a runny nose, headache, sore throat and cough.
The CDC cautions that the vaccine is not a magic bullet to keep the flu away. People can still get sick, especially if this year’s virus strains are not a good match to vaccine, but the vaccine can still provide some protection. In 18 or the last 22 seasons the match between the vaccine and the viruses has been good, the CDC reports, so the odds are with you.