Flu vaccination clinics scheduled

The best protection against the flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. Last flu season, Coconino County experienced its highest level of flu activity in at least four years. Coconino County Health Department (CCHD) officials are encouraging residents to make an appointment to get a flu shot with their health care provider or at a CCHD clinic.

To make an appointment for a flu shot, call the CCHD at (928) 679-7300 or toll free at (877) 679-7272.

The CCHD accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (excluding Medicare and out-of-state Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield plan Members), Medicare, AHCCCS, Health Choice Arizona and Phoenix Health Plans.

Vaccinations are free for children age 18 and under. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all children (6 months through 18 years of age) get a flu shot.

The normal cost for a flu shot is $25. Pneumonia vaccinations will be available for a cost of $30. Pneumonia vaccinations are recommended for individuals age 65 and older and for some high-risk groups. Last winter, the number of cases of severe pneumococcal disease, which can be prevented with the pneumonia vaccine, was higher than any of the previous four years.

The CCHD will be at the Grand Canyon 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Recreation Center.

The CCHD Clinic will also offer flu shots at regularly scheduled clinics on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. at the Coconino County Health and Community Services Building, 2625 N. King St., Flagstaff.

Additional community clinics are scheduled. Check the CCHD Web site at www.coconino.az.gov/health for additional clinic information or call (928) 679-7300 for details.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for over 73 percent of the population. In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu should get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high-risk persons.

Those considered at high risk for serious flu complications are the elderly, young children, and people with certain health conditions. Pneumonia vaccinations are also strongly encouraged for people over age 65 or who have chronic illnesses.

People who should get vaccinated each year are -

• All children aged 6 months to 18 years (New CDC recommendation)

• Adults aged 50 years and older

• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions

• Pregnant women

• Residents of nursing homes, long-term care facilities and dormitories

• Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months

• Health-care workers

• Household contacts of person at high risk for complications from the flu

• Anyone who wants to be protected against the flu

The CDC now recommends that children of all ages get a flu shot because children are considered a primary transmitter of the flu. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Even if a vaccinated person still catches the flu, the vaccine generally makes the illness much less severe and can prevent lower respiratory tract involvement or other complications.

In addition to getting a flu shot, good health habits will help you stay well.

These simple actions can stop the spread of germs and help protect you and others from getting sick -

• Wash your hands frequently during the flu season.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Avoid contact with people who are sick.

• Cover your mouth with a tissue or your upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

• Don't share eating utensils, cups, straws, and toothbrushes.

• Stay home when you are sick.

For more information, call the CCHD at (928) 679-7300 or toll-free (877) 679-7272.

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