Take the time to get a shot

By Observer editorial January 20, 2014 08:54 am
It still isn’t too late to get a flu shot.

Flu is now widespread throughout the United States. Many of this year’s cases are the H1N1 subtype, a strain of the flu that seems to hit younger people more often than older folks.

The Oregon Health Authority earlier this month issued new statistics indicating that influenza activity edged up last week from moderate to high in what appears to be one of the worst seasons in at least a few years, the Oregonian reported. Recently, the flu sparked more than 100 hospitalizations in three Portland-area counties.

The new flu statistics show that at least 70 percent of confirmed influenza specimens tested at the Oregon State Health Laboratory have been Influenza Type A, according to the Oregonian. Of those, 68 percent are the H1N1 subtype, also known as swine flu. H1N1 is the strain that caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009.

What makes this year’s flu offensive frustrating is that there is a perfectly suitable and effective flu vaccine available to the general public.

A number of hospital systems around the state — including Grande Ronde Hospital — have implemented temporary restrictions on visitors or encouraged limited visiting, a move that is designed to help keep the flu from spreading, especially to vulnerable patients.

All you need to do is contact your local health department and take a few minutes to get a flu shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends them for everyone 6 months and older. The government offers an online flu vaccine finder; enter your zip code and it will send you to a list of providers near you.

Some Oregon children are eligible for low-cost immunizations under the Vaccines for Children program, especially if they are ages 6 months through 18 years, have no insurance, are on the Oregon Health Plan or are Native Alaskan or American Indian. Children also may be eligible if they have insurance but it does not cover vaccines. Ask if your health care provider participates in this program, contact Public Health or call 211 to find a VFC provider. 

There is no cause for panic in this latest flu saga but the fact remains that the pesky flu virus can spark days of lost time from work. And, let’s face it, coming down with the flu isn’t exactly a fun time.

That’s why we urge area residents who have not yet received a flu shot to go out and get one. In the end it is a short piece out of your day, but an effort that can bring a great deal of peace of mind.