As if the whooping cough wasn’t bad enough, guess what? It’s flu season again.
Spokane Regional Health District announced last week the arrival of its first shipment of seasonal flu vaccine, now available through the SRHD Public Health Clinic.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death, SRHD officials say. They remind residents that a flu shot is the single best way for people to protect not only themselves against the flu, but their loved ones as well.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people 6 months of age and older get immunized against flu. The sooner residents get vaccinated the better, as flu seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as October.
CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Last flu season, 138people were hospitalized due to flu in Spokane County.
Appointments for the SRHD Public Health Clinic can be made by calling 324-1600. The clinic is located at 1101 W. College Ave in Spokane.
The fee for a flu shot is $27, adult or child. Fees for children may be adjusted based on income and family size. The clinic also offers high-dose vaccine for those 65 years and older for $47. The clinic accepts cash and credit cards. Medicaid and Medicare may cover the cost—ask when making your appointment.
Vaccine is also being offered by many local health care provider offices, pharmacies and grocery stores.
Health officials add that this is a great time for residents to protect themselves against whooping cough, which continues at high levels in Spokane County. To date in 2012, there are 183 cases locally. In the week since most area schools started, six school-aged children have been confirmed to have whooping cough.
The health district, as well as several local providers and pharmacies offer low-cost whooping cough shots. These locations may charge a fee up to $15.60 to give the vaccine, but financial assistance is available for those who cannot pay
For residents whose insurance covers whooping cough shots, vaccinations are available at locations throughout Spokane County including health care provider offices and local pharmacies.
More immunization information can be found at www.srhd.org.