The DeKalb County Board of Health’s 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccination program is underway. The early vaccination effort is part of the national goal to reach people now about the importance of protecting oneself against the flu.
Last year, many Georgians received both a seasonal flu shot and the shot for H1N1 flu, which was then an emerging strain. This year’s vaccination combines H1N1 with two other circulating viruses. People who received the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine or had H1N1 flu should still get the new 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccine.
“Our goal is to encourage everyone from the age of 6 months and older to get vaccinated,” said S. Elizabeth Ford, M.D., M.B.A., district health director of the DeKalb County Board of Health. “Flu vaccination protects people with chronic diseases, young children in school settings, health care workers and people who take care of the chronically ill and aged. Protection means not missing critical school or work days and not spreading the influenza virus to others. It keeps people healthy and productive.” Dr. Ford adds that there are specific groups at high risk of being hospitalized or dying from flu complications. The high-risk groups are:
- Children 6 months and older
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women
- People who have medical conditions including:
- Asthma (even if it’s controlled or mild)
- Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve and muscle, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury
- Chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis
- Heart disease, such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease
- Blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease
- Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes mellitus
- Kidney disorders
- Liver disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV, AIDS or cancer and those on chronic steroids)
- People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People who are morbidly obese (having a body mass index of 40 or greater)
In addition to the standard flu vaccine, two other vaccines are available. One is Fluzone High-Dose, which creates a stronger immune response in people 65 years and older than the standard vaccine. The other is the FluMist nasal spray vaccine for healthy children.
The DeKalb County Board of Health’s fees for flu vaccines are:
- Standard flu vaccination: $15 (covered by Medicaid, Medicare and PeachCare for Kids)
- Standard flu vaccination for Vaccines for Children-eligible children: $14.81
- FluMist for Vaccines for Children-eligible children: $14.81
- Fluzone High Dose: $40 (covered by Medicare)
Checks (on Georgia banks), cash, credit cards, Medicaid, Medicare (part B) and PeachCare for Kids are accepted. Please bring your card.
The Vaccines for Children program provides low-cost flu vaccines for uninsured and under-insured children under age 19. To see if your child is eligible, call your nearby Board of Health center.
Individuals with health insurance coverage through either United Health Care or Cigna can receive their flu vaccination at any Board of Health location. Please bring your card.
Personal hygiene practices also can help reduce the spread of viruses like influenza. They include washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, coughing in to your sleeve, using disinfectant to clean shared surfaces such as doorknobs and faucet handles, and staying home when you become sick with flu-like symptoms.
Symptoms of influenza are a cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose and body aches. Diarrhea and vomiting may also occur and are usually more common in children than in adults.
Seasonal flu vaccinations are available on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the following locations:
- Clifton Springs Health Center, 3110 Clifton Springs Road, Decatur, 404-244-2200.
- East DeKalb Health Center, 2277 S. Stone Mountain-Lithonia Road, Lithonia,
- North DeKalb Health Center, 3807 Clairmont Road, NE, Chamblee, 770-454-1144.
- T.O. Vinson Health Center, 440 Winn Way, Decatur, 404-294-3762.
- Refugee Health Services, Richardson Health Center, 445 Winn Way, Decatur,
Onsite flu clinics are also available for local businesses and groups with 25 people or more. Call the nearest health center to arrange for an immunization team to come to your worksite, place of worship or day care center.
For more information about the DeKalb County Board of Health’s seasonal flu vaccination program, call (404) 508-7880 or visit www.dekalbhealth.net.