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Topics > Healthy Outlook > Nasal Flu Shot a Painless Choice

Nasal Flu Shot a Painless Choice

Published by Contra Costa Times

Posted on Wed., Nov. 21, 2007
By Erika Jenssen, MPH

"I DON'T LIKE NEEDLES" used to be an excuse for not getting a flu shot. Well, if you are healthy and under 50 years old, that excuse doesn't work anymore. We are now offering a nasal flu vaccination at county public health flu clinics.

As part of the annual National Influenza Vaccination Week from Nov. 26 through Dec. 2, we are hoping to raise awareness about this painless and easy alternative to flu shots, and to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

Both the flu shot and the nasal spray vaccine are available at public health clinics throughout the county over the next few months. Generally, the cost is $10 per vaccination, but no one will be turned away for lack of money.

The nasal flu vaccine is given by spraying the vaccine in each nostril - there is no needle involved. Healthy people ages 2-49 can opt for this nasal flu vaccine.

However, the nasal flu vaccine is not recommended for people who have a chronic medical condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, are immunocompromised or are pregnant -- these groups should get the flu shot.

Every year, influenza kills 36,000 people in the United States. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and is usually spread by coughing or sneezing.

People who get the flu can spread it for one day before they show symptoms, and for up to five days during the illness. This means that you can pass on the flu even before you know are sick.

Studies of thousands of people have repeatedly shown that getting the flu vaccination does not cause you to get the flu.

Anyone 6 months or older may receive a flu vaccine, but people at risk of developing deadly flu complications or who work with at-risk groups should get vaccinated. At-risk groups include:

  • Children from six months to 5 years old
  • People 50 and older
  • People with chronic diseases of the heart, lung and liver
  • Health care workers
  • Pregnant women

People who have close contact with children under 5 should consider getting the vaccine, including siblings, parents, grandparents, child care providers and baby sitters.

This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that anyone who wants a flu vaccine should be able to get it, particularly school-aged children.

Immunizing elementary schoolchildren can help protect them and also help prevent others around them from getting sick.

Covering your mouth when coughing and washing your hands helps prevent the spread of flu and other contagious illnesses. Getting a flu vaccination every year is the single best way to protect yourself, your family and anyone in your care.

The flu vaccine takes two weeks to work, and the flu season usually peaks in January or February, so the sooner you get it, the sooner you will be protected.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, from noon to 4 p.m., Contra Costa Health Services will be holding a free flu clinic at the Somersville Towne Center in Antioch.

Nasal and injection vaccinations will be free for all at that clinic. For more information, visit the Contra Costa Health Services Web site or call 925-313-6469.

Erika Jenssen is the immunization coordinator for Contra Costa Health Services.

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