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Flu Vaccine to Offer Protection Against Three New Strains of Virus

This year’s flu vaccine offers protection against three new strains of influenza virus in a traditional shot or newer nasal spray form. There is no expected shortage of vaccine this year, with an anticipated production of 140 million doses provided by six manufacturers. 

Flu season is approaching, usually starting in October and continuing through early spring, with peak activity in January and February. Influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is caused by the influenza virus, which infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs).

Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. Each year in the United States, an average of 36,000 people die, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from serious flu-related complications. Vaccination is the best method for preventing influenza and its severe complications.

There are a number of places where people can get flu shots. The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will hold a series of free community flu clinics targeting people older than age 60 and for younger individuals with a doctor’s verification of chronic illness.

There will be a free flu shot clinic in Lompoc for all residents older than age 6 months on Oct. 23, 2008, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lompoc Elks Lodge and is limited to 1,750 doses of flu vaccine. Also, several immunization providers such as Costco, Longs, drug store chains, etc., offer flu vaccine to the public.

Click here for a list of community influenza clinic offers by the county Public Health Department or call its flu hot line at 866.608.1408.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly encourages high-risk individuals get vaccinated. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice identifies these individuals as:

» Children age 6 months through 18 years.

» Anyone older than age 50.

» All women who will be pregnant during the flu season.

» Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus).

» Adults and children who have immunosuppression.

» Residents of nursing homes and chronic care facilities.

» Anyone living with or caring for anyone in the above categories.

» Contacts and caregivers of children younger than age 6 months.

» All health care personnel.

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