The season of the flu is already upon us, and health officials in Valley City urge anybody age 6 months and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Local pharmacies and City-County Health District offer flu shots with no appointment necessary.
Sarah Hansen, Registered Nurse at the City-County Health District, said the CCHD is open to give flu shots from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The cost of shots at the CCHD for private pay is $32. They can also be covered by private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare.
The cash price for flu shots at Thrifty White Pharmacy in MarketPlace foods is $27. Medicare and several insurance companies also cover the costs.
“There are lots of different strains of flu out there,” Hansen said, adding that the vaccine protects against the three that are most-likely predicted to be problematic.
Bill Jahn, chief pharmacist at Thrifty White Pharmacy in MarketPlace Foods, said the vaccine is different every year and is usually based on what is seen in Asia the previous year.
“The CDC (Center for Disease Control) will make recommendations to the manufacturers, and generally it’s three different strains, which is normally 97 percent of the flu that’s out there,” Jahn said.
Hansen and Jahn both agree that a flu shot can prevent complications from the influenza virus, which has the potential of being pretty serious. Plus, Jahn said, getting vaccinated “not only protects you, but it protects people around you.”
Hansen said sometimes people can be hospitalized from the flu, and if not “If could really lay you up for a few days.”
Jahn said each year, about 36,000 people in the United States die from the influenza virus.
“Influenza virus can cause respiratory issures, so anyone who already has a chronic disease should get vaccinated because their immune system may be compromised,” Hansen said.
Children are also at risk for complications from the flu because they have a smaller airway, according to Hansen.
Jahn said pregnant women are also more prone to complications.
Hansen said the influenza virus should not be confused with the stomach flu — medically known as gastroenteritis and commonly referred to as the 24-hour flu. The stomach flu usually causes vomiting and diarrhea, while influenza is a respiratory disease, with symptoms ranging from a fever to body aches.
There is a common myth that flu shots can cause illness, giving a person the flu virus the vaccine is meant to protect.
“Because the vaccine that we give is inactivated — a killed virus — that killed virus still gives you the protection but does not make you ill, Jahn said. “It can’t give you the flu.”
One complication that can arise from the shot is an allergic reaction.
“Because it’s grown in an egg medium, if you’re allergic to eggs, that’s generally somebody that we’re not going to want to give a flu shot to,” Jahn said, adding that someone could also be allergic to one of the preservatives in the vaccine.
Jahn said he doesn’t run across too many people who have those allergies, and people will fill out a form that asks some yes and no questions prior to receiving a shot.
Flu shots are also available at Thrifty White Pharmacy in Valley Drug.