Beating the Flu: Vaccinations Urged for AllBy Tammy Daniels
07:00AM / Friday, November 23, 2007
Peggy LaPine has been faithfully getting her flu shot every year for
the past 25 years.
"I had the flu a long time ago," said the Williamstown resident as
registered nurse Margaret Moruzzi dispensed the vaccine in a matter of
seconds, "but not once since getting the shots."
LaPine was one of the thousand or so recipients so far this season of
flu shots given out at clinics run by the Visiting Nurse Association
and Hospice of Northern Berkshire.
"Obviously, [flu shots] are recommended for people 65 and older and
anyone with a chronic condition," said Karen Bednarz, a registered
nurse and clinical supervisor who has been coordinating the clinics
for years. But vaccinations aren't limited to those groups. "Unless
there's a medical condition or reason you should not (such as egg
allergies), it is highly recommended you get one."
The clinics, which often are held in senior centers and residences,
have been full but not overwhelmed. "We're dependent on the state, and
we got [the vaccine] a little later than the doctors' offices [this
year]," said Bednarz.
|Margaret Moruzzi administers the flu vaccine to Peggy LaPine at Monday's clinic at the Spruces.|
The VNA will hold two more clinics in December at its Curran Highway
facility in North Adams, which are usually very well attended, she
said. (For a list of scheduled clinics, see below.)
Influenza is a contagious virus that causes respiratory illness.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, anywhere from 5 to
20 percent of Americans contract the virus every year and some 200,000
end up in hospitals from complications; 36,000 die from the flu.
Anyone can get the virus, and complications - such as pneumonia,
bronchitis and sinus infections - can occur at any age.
National Influenza Vaccination Week is next week, with Nov. 27 set
aside specifically to raise awareness about getting children
vaccinated. The event is designed to highlight the importance of flu
Flu symptoms include high fever, headaches, extreme tiredness, dry
cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Nausea,
vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children
Despite some overlapping symptons, the flu is not the common cold.
That's something many people get confused, said Bednarz.
"A flu shot does not protect against the common cold," she said. Nor
does having had a cold mean you're now immune to the flu. "People with
colds figure they already had it [and don't get a flu shot]."
And some people wait until everyone around them is sick before getting
the shot - far too late. It takes up to two weeks for the vaccination
to become effective, said Bednarz. Someone with the flu can pass on
the contagion at least a day before the symptoms appear and up to five
days after that.
Some rush to get their shots in September - a little too early. The
CDC suggests October and November as the prime months.
"The flu strain in Massachusetts peaks in March," said Bednarz, and
vaccinations will be given out into January. "People who think its too
late to get a shot are mistaken."
The vaccines are developed to target particular viruses and close
cousins. Vaccines are given annually to take into account the changing
nature of the viruses and the gradual decline in protection.
LaPine was among the first in line at the Spruces clinic on Monday
morning, but hardly the last as cars arrived in the parking lot to
spill a stream of seniors into the recreation hall.
Mary A. Smith of Williamstown, 76, said she'd been getting her shot,
too, every year she'd been living here. "I had the flu one or two
times before," she said. "I don't want it again."
Registered nurse Joyce Kelley, who also was giving shots at the
clinic, said that while it was important for seniors to be vaccinated,
"people who work with the elderly and children should be vaccinated,
Some people can have reactions to the vaccine. Anyone unsure of
whether they should get a flu shot should call their doctor, said
In the recent past, there have been shortages and delivery problems
with the vaccine. But not this year.
"There are no limitations and no shortages, so nobody has an excuse,"
●Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Adams Council on Aging from 10 to noon and at the Cheshire Senior Center from 2 to 4 p.m.
●Friday, Nov. 30, at the Savoy Senior Center from 9 to 10 a.m.
●Friday, Nov. 30, at the Florida Senior Center from 10:30 to noon.
These clinics are being held by the Northern Berkshire VNA; for clinics in other parts of the county, contact your local VNA, council on aging or medical provider.
|Staying Healthy in Flu Season|
- Avoid close contact.
- Stay home when you are
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other
good health habits.