Thursday, February 14, 2008

Get The Shot

By: Whitney Scott

“This is probably the worst I felt in a very long time. So it's not fun." Erin Young

She's achey, feverish, just plain ill. This Ohio University sophomore can not afford to miss class, but her exhaustion kept her bed-ridden for the last few weeks. Erin has the bug. A bug swarming into Athens County, attacking vulnerable environments like schools, work and even your home. The flu is back, creeping in for another winter infestation.


It’s a simple prick you may not think to get, but one that could keep you healthy during most influenza seasons. Along with others, Erin chose not to get a flu vaccination. The CDC calls it the single best chance to avoid contracting the virus. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends three steps for a flu free winter.

Take Three
1. Take time to get a vaccination.
2. Take action to stop the germs!!! Wash your hands and cover coughs/sneezes.
3. Take antiviral drugs if your doctor says you need them.


*You can get the shot for free by appointment at the Athens County Health Department.
-about 2600 shots have been administered
-about 300 shot are still available
*Most insurance policies and Medicare offer coverage for the vaccine if charges apply elsewhere.
*Anyone over six months of age can get the shot

Scared of the injection? Sure there’s the inevitable jab and pressure, but nerves may be the primary culprit of any pain experienced. I took a trip to the health department to get the first hand low down on the flu vaccine. I actually got the shot and can say it really wasn’t that bad. Never gotten the vaccine? Watch the nurse perform the simple procedure on me below.

Getting the shot at the Health Department

“This is the most severe flu season in three years in terms of numbers." says Jonah Smith, a Southeast Ohio epidemiologist.

*January 27th – February 2nd*

71 reported cases in Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs and Vinton Counties
*February 2nd – February 10th*
236 reported cases in Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs and Vinton Counties

The numbers speak for themselves, and the talk makes James Gaskell sting. The former pediatrician and current health commissioner of Athens County says cases have dramatically increased in the last few weeks. But beware; the worst is still yet to come in the sickly season. Expect the bug to bite even more through the end of the month, and this year, the bite could be too big for the flu shot to handle. “The past 16 of 19 years, the FDA picked the virus causing infection perfectly. This year, they missed it,” says Gaskell.

A no satisfaction guaranteed comes with any innovation in science. Health officials call it educated guesswork, and this year, they guessed incorrectly. However, Gaskell went on to explain FDA researchers are already discussing what strains of influenza will hit the country next flu season. They will reach a decision by March, and based on their determinations, choose what type of vaccination to formulate. Production begins in April or May.

“Getting the vaccine is terrifically important for society. This virus is spread easily from person to person,” says Gaskell
-About 200,000 people are hospitilazed each year from the flueimmune system
-About 36,000 people die each year from the virus
Right now, doctors say about half the vaccinations are fully working. However, both Gaskell and Long agree, getting the shot is still imperative, because it will still bolster your immune system to some degree if the virus is contracted. They say it takes 1-2 weeks for the shot to work, meaning one small prick can still do wanders for your health this flu season.

Epidemiologist says get the prick

Influenza, flu, the big nasty bug: whatever you want to call it, the virus is here to stay. For Erin, the shot option may be too late. A price, she reluctantly paid, for a service she could have gotten free of charge. The choice is yours. But shot or not, Gaskell and Long both say keep the faith in science. A little prick may just be the bug repellent you need.

No comments: