As flu season approaches, doctors, nurses and pharmacists are preparing to get everyone vaccinated to help protect them from the threat of influenza.
Many health care providers in West Point are waiting for flu vaccinations to come in, which will include the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccination, but some already have them and are administering the medication upon the patient's request.
Christie Morris, Licensed Practical Nurse at the North Mississippi Medical Center Family Practice Clinic, said the clinic started giving flu vaccinations that include H1N1 to patients this week. She said it's crucial to get vaccinated and anyone experiencing fever, chills, headaches or any related indications need to call their doctor immediately.
“It's vital to get this shot because it could lead to pneumonia and other issues,” Morris said. “If you feel you have flu-like symptoms, you should contact your physician within the first 48 hours because whatever medications they give you after that usually does not help.”
Ronnie Crosswhite, staff pharmacist at NMMC pharmacy, said no one is immune to getting the flu unless they get vaccinated so everybody in every age range should take precaution.
“It's very important for everyone especially is they have a co-existing disease such as diabetes, asthma or any chronic condition,” Crosswhite said. “It's very important for the elderly whether they have a co-existing condition or not.”
In 2009 there were five H1N1 cases in Clay County reported to the MSDH, but Liz Sharlot, Director of Communications for the Mississippi Department of Health, said there may have been many more cases but they were never recorded. Sharlot said plenty of vaccinations are available this year and in the next coming weeks, all health departments and other clinics will have them ready for patients.
There is only one vaccine this year distributed by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, which includes the seasonal flu vaccination and H1N1 vaccination together. Crosswhite said having the medications together may actually cut down on the number of people getting their shots this year because of the negativity that was placed on H1N1 in 2009.
“I have mixed feeling because now that is has H1N1, some may be a little scared,” Crosswhite said. “It's going to be interesting to see. Some will ask if they can get it without the swine flu (vaccination) in it. Everybody needs to get it and not be concerned about having the swine flu in this.”
The West Point School District is also preparing for flu season and will be administering flu vaccinations to the faculty and staff beginning Oct. 19. Although the district does not give the vaccination to students, faculty and staff are taking extra precautions to protect everyone from the virus this year, said school nurse Jacqueline Crump.
“All teachers have sanitizer in their rooms, lysol spray and wipes, and custodians have extra sanitizing materials they use to clean with after school,” Crump said. “Teachers are also wiping down desks between classes. We just want to reduce the number of transitions and minimize the exposure rate.”
Although faculty and staff are not required to get vaccinated for influenza, they are strongly encouraged too, Crump said.
“I go around from school to school and try to educate them on the importance of it,” Crump said. “The pros outweigh the cons. The advantages of taking it are more beneficial than not taking it.”
The Mississippi Department of Health reminds people that the best and most effective way to protect oneself against the flu is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Sharlot said you should cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away or cough and sneeze into your sleeve. She said it's best to stay home if you're sick and not return to work or school until symptoms have ceased.