It’s flu season in Park County, which is why Park County Public Health, Powell Valley Healthcare and Cody Regional Health have all been holding clinics, some even drive-thru, to allow people to …
It’s flu season in Park County, which is why Park County Public Health, Powell Valley Healthcare and Cody Regional Health have all been holding clinics, some even drive-thru, to allow people to get the shots.
And while the last two flu seasons have been low, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is expecting an uptick in cases this year. A WDH official says flu shots can help protect Wyoming residents from serious illness.
“We know flu shots are safe and continue to be the most important strategy for influenza protection,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “Flu vaccines reduce illness, hospitalizations and deaths. We recommend flu shots for everyone six months of age and older.”
In Powell, the hospital is still giving flu shots and Park County Public Health has clinics scheduled through the end of November, including on Nov. 30, 1:30-4 p.m., at the Cody office. People can pay $25 ($20 for children) or use insurance.
Powell Valley Healthcare (PVHC) uses the Fluarix Quadrivalent, vaccine, designed to provide protection against four different influenza variants.
“Largely due to widespread personal precautions related to COVID-19, reported flu activity was unusually low over the past two flu seasons in Wyoming and across the country. There are indications that may not be the case again,” Harrist said. “Unfortunately, we may be back to normal with flu. We expect influenza will circulate in addition to COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in the coming months.”
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. Symptoms, which come on suddenly, include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, extreme tiredness and muscle or body aches.
Although most healthy people recover from influenza, they still experience an unpleasant illness that can mean missing work, school or other activities, WDH says. They may also pass along the virus to other people who may be at high risk for serious complications and illness.
Harrist noted it is considered safe for people who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses to receive them at the same time they receive a flu shot.
“We recommend that people stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine protection,” Harrist said. “While we continue to move along past the earlier, emergency stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 remains a concern, especially for our residents who are more vulnerable to its effects.”
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least two months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. People who have gotten more than one original booster are recommended to get an updated (bivalent) booster. More information about COVID-19 vaccine recommendations can be found at: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html.
Flu vaccines are especially important for those vulnerable populations such as young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease; and people 65 years and older. Healthcare workers and people who may live with, care for, or are in contact with high risk individuals or infants six months of age and under, should also get the flu vaccine.
Harrist explained that it takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine for it to offer protection. “The best strategy is to get your flu shot before people around you are ill,” she said.
Influenza vaccines are available in many locations, including local public health nursing offices, workplaces, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and retail stores and are covered by most insurance plans. In addition, Wyoming’s public vaccine programs, which are available at participating providers, help protect some adults and children from vaccine-preventable diseases, such as influenza, at little to no cost for eligible patients. COVID-19 vaccine doses are available in many of the same locations and currently remain available at no cost.
According to the CDC, flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all these symptoms:
• Fever or feeling feverish/chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The flu vaccine is designed to help reduce the seriousness of illness and symptoms if you contract influenza. Getting a flu shot helps your body prepare to fight the illness. It also helps to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face as much as possible and stay away from other people who have flu symptoms.