Influenza (commonly called “flu”) is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. These viruses are spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes or touches a surface handled by others. It can be mild or severe and infects millions of Americans every year. On average, more than 226,000 people are hospitalized annually, which includes 20,000 children under the age of 5. About 24,000 people die from complications of the flu yearly. The best way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated. It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for protection (immunity) to develop in the majority of adults. To ensure proper protection from the seasonal flu virus, which can begin to circulate early in the fall, the Department of Health has scheduled immunization clinics throughout the month of October. Persons 9 years and older will be eligible to receive influenza vaccine at Department clinics. The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, made especially for people 65 years of age and older, will be offered at clinics. As we age, our immune system weakens and places us at greater risk for severe illness from influenza. Clinical trials indicate that the Fluzone High Dose vaccine helps strengthen the body’s immune response in older people.
Director of Health, Caroline C. Baisley, emphasized, “getting vaccinated for seasonal influenza is the best way to provide protection against circulating influenza viruses. The traditional flu season begins early October and runs through May in most years and sustained influenza transmission is usually not seen before January or later. However, last year the influenza season came early with many cases of flu being reported in December. The Department of Health is committed to working with medical providers in an effort to provide influenza vaccine in the community, especially to those at increased risk for severe complications from influenza.” People at high risk include children under the age of 5, pregnant women, adults over 65 and people with underlying medical conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months or age and older should be immunized; however, it is especially important for the following groups to receive flu vaccine:
An alternative to the seasonal flu shot for healthy non-pregnant persons aged 2 through 49 is FluMist, the nasal mist flu vaccine. FluMist is made with live attenuated influenza vaccine. Although FluMist does not cause the flu when administered, some side effects may occur and include: headache, cough, sore throat, fever and runny nose. FluMist is not recommended for those have asthma or children under the age of five (5) years with recurrent wheezing. It can be used by persons, including health care workers, who are not caring for severely immunocompromised patients in special care units. Persons in close contact with groups at high risk for influenza-related complications and others desiring protection against the flu can also use it. FluMist (LAIV) will not be offered in Department Flu Clinics, but may be available in some doctor’s offices.
During each scheduled clinic, pneumococcal vaccine will be available to qualified takers. The following list outlines the required criteria:
“Although the single best way to prevent the flu or pneumonia is to get vaccinated (flu shot, nasal spray flu vaccine and pneumonia shot), there are other ways to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses,” states Director of Family Health, Deborah Travers. Those steps include:
Throughout October, the Greenwich Department of Health will offer a series of clinics for residents to receive the flue shot.
FEES AND ACCEPTED INSURANCE
Participants 65 years of age or older must bring their Medicare Advantage ID Card/Traditional Medicare Part B Card or a fee of $35.00 will be charged for influenza immunizations.
The charge for pneumonia immunization is $50.00
Medicare Advantage providers do not cover pneumonia immunizations received at public clinics.
Medicaid will not be accepted.
Credit cards will not be accepted.
People between the ages of 9 and 64 will be charged a $35.00 fee for influenza immunizations and/or $50.00 for pneumonia immunizations. Checks should be made payable to the “TOWN OF GREENWICH” and if paying with cash, exact change will be appreciated.
Short sleeves and attendance no earlier that 15 minutes before the start of the clinic will be appreciated.
The public is encouraged to call 203-622-3774 prior to attending any clinic.
During the influenza season, the public is encouraged to call the Department of Health flu information hotline for up-to-date information at 203-622-3774, or visit the Department’s website at www.greenwichct.org.