You can laugh at all those people getting flu shots and label them as “overcautious” – that is, until you’re actually stricken with the virus. It’s not fun and, worse, the flu can be deadly.
The CDC estimates that between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths are caused or contributed to by the flu every year. Fortunately, Livingston’s Nursing Department is available to help.
On Sept. 21 and Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. town nurses will be inoculating residents, in one shot, against three of the predicted influenza strains: A/California/7/2009 (an H1N1-type), A/Perth/16/2009 (an H3N2-type), and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
Janet Traettino, nursing supervisor, explained that last year the town gave out 1,500 vaccines with the amount of people coming varying from year to year. The Nursing Department first offers the shots to first responders (police, firefighters, first aid workers), town employees, people who are homebound, and public school teachers.
The flu shots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for residents ages 18 and up as well as for those who live in Millburn and Short Hills. The cost is $20 and is free for those who present a Medicare card. Those whose names begin with the letters A through M may get their shots Sept. 21; those with names beginning with M through Z can get inoculated on Oct. 5.
The flu season tends to peak in January/February although most influenza occurs from October through May. Dolores (“Dee”) Keller, nurse and health educator, described how at the end of each flu season experts make an educated guess as to what flu strains will be prevalent next year. They then tell manufacturers what vaccine to make.
“That’s why you can get the flu even after you get a shot. It’s not an exact science,” added public health nurse, Melissa Kimmel.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination is especially important for those individuals at risk of severe influenza and those who are in close contact with them. That population includes healthcare personnel and those in the childcare field.
To prevent the spread of the flu, Dee advises:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid sharing personal items
- Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing
- Practice healthy habits including eating right, staying hydrated, and getting the proper amount of exercise and rest
The Livingston Nursing Department is a public health service that provides services to Livingston, Short Hills, and Millburn. For more information, visit www.livingstonnj.org/nursing.htm. You can also log onto the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov.