Public health experts say now is a good time for people to consider getting vaccinated for the upcoming flu season. “Get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year,” says Tracy Pevehouse, nurse manager at the Walker County Health Department. There’s plenty of it available in our community right now, including at the health department where we have the quadrivalent vaccine that provides broader protection against circulating flu viruses. We also have the high-dose influenza vaccine, which is more effective for persons 65 years of age and older.”
Pevehouse says everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Flu season can start early, and it takes about two weeks after your vaccination for the full antibody effect to develop and provide flu protection. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated in September or early October before the flu season really kicks in.
“The flu shot will last through the flu season,” Pevehouse says. “It’s never too early to get a flu shot, as we cannot accurately predict when the influenza season will begin, but it can be too late.” Flu season usually begins in October but can begin as early as September and last well into March. Peak flu season in Georgia usually occurs in late January and early February.
Who should get a flu vaccine? Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complication from influenza, including:
- Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years,
- adults 65 years of age and older,
- pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum,
- residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and
- people who have medical conditions including asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
It is especially important to get the flu vaccine if you, someone you live with, or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from flu. It’s also recommended that pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester of their pregnancy. There’s added value to the seasonal flu vaccine for pregnant women, too. Not only does it protect them against the flu, it also protects their newborn infants, for up to the first few months of life at least, at a time when infants are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.
Acceptable payment methods include cash, credit-or-debit card, Medicare, Medicaid, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia, Cigna, and United Health Care SHBP.
Walker County Health Department hours are Monday – Wednesday 7:30 am to 5 pm, Thursday 8 am to 6:30 pm, and Friday 8 am to 2 pm. Hours for the Environmental Health office are Monday – Thursday 7:30 am to 5 pm and Friday 7:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Contact the Walker County Health Department, 603 E. Villanow Street, LaFayette, at 706-638-5577; the Environmental Health office, 101 Napier Street, LaFayette, at 706-639-2574, or visit www.nwgapublichealth.org/counties/walker. Follow us on Facebook to receive news, emergency messages, and health-and-safety information at https://www.facebook.com/WalkerDPH
For more information about seasonal influenza and flu vaccines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
About the Walker County Health Department: The Walker County Health Department works to prevent disease, injury, and disability; promote health, safety, and wellbeing; and prepare for and respond to disasters, thereby improving the quality of life for individuals and families in Walker County. We provide a wide range of medical services, track and prevent the spread of disease, promote health and safety through education and communication, monitor area environmental safety, including restaurant and other food-service inspections, and ensure our community is prepared for public health emergencies. Find us on the web at www.nwgapublichealth.org/counties/walker. Follow us on Facebook to receive news, emergency messages, and health-and-safety information at https://www.facebook.com/WalkerDPH