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'Keep flu out!' regional campaign urging vaccinations

October 4th, 2012 5:17 am by staff report

BLOUNTVILLE — “Keep Flu Out! Protect yourself, your family and those you love,” an educational campaign of the Mountain Empire Epidemiology Task Force (MEETF) along with its partners, including area healthcare systems, government agencies and other stakeholders, encourages the public to get their seasonal flu vaccinations due to the dangers associated with flu.

“It is extremely important for everyone to get vaccinated against the flu in order to protect their neighbors, friends and loved ones who may be at high risk or may not be able to receive a vaccination,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, M.D., M.P.H. “We want Tennesseans to be good neighbors and practice the Golden Rule by taking this important step to protect health in our state.”

In the United States, approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized each year due to complications from seasonal flu and influenza is one of the top 10 causes of death. Flu-related deaths have ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 each year during the last three decades.

Health officials say yearly vaccination against the flu should begin in September or as soon as the vaccine becomes available. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine.

Vaccination of healthcare professionals has been shown to be effective in preventing the spread of influenza. Healthcare groups have been able to prevent about three out of every four patients from getting the flu by immunizing their staff.

“The 2012-2013 flu vaccine will protect against the 2009 H1N1 and two other influenza viruses — an H3N2 and an influenza B virus,” said Stephen May, M.D., medical director for the Sullivan County Regional Health Department. “It is highly effective and it is very important to be re-vaccinated to assure protection each year.”

“As we enter flu season every year, it is not uncommon to encounter myths and misinformation about the flu vaccine,” said Sue Cantrell, M.D., director, Lenowisco Health District, Virginia Department of Health.

“The vaccine is safe, effective and does not cause you to get the flu. You don’t always have to get a shot since flu mist is available also.”

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