Prevent the flu-season blues |

Prevent the flu-season blues

Tamera Manzanares

Headaches, body aches, coughing, sneezing and sniffling: It’s time to think about avoiding the winter flu doldrums.

The Visiting Nurse Assoc-iation and various doctors’ offices and clinics are gearing up for the season with hundreds of flu vaccinations. They will be holding drop-in clinics this month and next.

VNA officials are encouraging high-risk individuals to get their shots as early as possible. Those at high-risk for contracting the flu and/or developing complications include people 65 and older, children 6 months to 2 years old, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and anyone living with a high-risk individual.

Children, especially, should get their shots early because their young immune systems require two shots, four weeks apart, said Janice Poirot, VNA public health nurse.

VNA clinics will be limited to high-risk individuals until Oct. 24. After that, the VNA will offer drop-in clinics for all individuals, including a “vote and vaccinate” clinic Nov. 1 at the Steamboat Springs VNA, which is a polling location.

The VNA has four suppliers for flu vaccinations this year. They are expecting a total of about 2,500 flu shots.

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Most doctors’ offices also are offering flu vaccinations, though some may administer the shots only to existing patients. Others are hosting flu clinics and also are taking drop-in patients.

Like any vaccine, a flu shot is not considered 100 percent effective. A shot’s effectiveness depends on whether it’s a good match to the circulating flu strain, and officials won’t know that until the season sets in, Poirot said.

On average, a flu vaccine’s match to the circulating strain is about 90 percent, she said.

The season typically peaks between December and March.

Poirot emphasized that vaccine antibodies wane after about six months, so someone who got a flu shot last year needs to get re-vaccinated.

It typically takes about two weeks for antibodies to begin working within the body. Individuals getting a flu shot for the first time may feel a little achy for awhile after getting the shot, although it shouldn’t hinder them from everyday activities, Poirot said.

Whether non-high-risk individuals should get a flu shot depends on their level of exposure to other people. Child care workers, people in food service and people who travel a lot are among those who might want to protect themselves with a vaccine, Poirot said.

The Visiting Nurse Association will offer the following clinics at its Steamboat Springs office. Clinics before Oct. 24 are limited to high-risk individuals. The cost is $18 for adults and $15 or less for children. Seniors should bring their Medicare cards. Call 879-1632.

Noon to 3 p.m. Thursday 1 to 4:30 p.m. Monday Noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 20 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 (for Spanish speakers) 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 25 1 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 31 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 1

Steamboat Medical Group will offer the following clinics. The office also is offering walk-in flu shots during regular office hours in Steamboat Springs. The cost is $18. Call 879-0203.

8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Friday at Hayden Town Hall 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 20 at Oak Creek Town Hall 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Moonhill Schoolhouse in Clark 5 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday at the Steamboat Springs office

The South Routt Medical Clinic will offer the following clinics in Oak Creek. The cost is $20. Call 736-8118.

4 to 7 p.m. Thursday 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 19

Solandt Medical Clinic in Hayden is offering walk-in flu shots during regular office hours. Call 276-4270.