The Saratoga Sun -

Flu shots recommended early


Flu shots are now available at the Platte Valley Medical Clinic to prepare Valley residents for the upcoming flu season.

Dean Bartholomew, the physician at the clinic, agrees with medical experts who recommend everyone get a flu vaccination, but adds there are several groups of people for whom it is especially needed.

“We recommend it for everybody,” Bartholomew said. “But absolutely everybody over the age of 65 should be getting one, anyone that has a chronic disease.”

Bartholomew said that people with heart conditions, diabetes or any type of respiratory issues such as asthma or COPD should get the vaccination. Younger children should also get the vaccination, he said, saying that this year the type of vaccine inhaled as a mist in the nose has been discontinued due to concerns about its efficacy.

“Everybody is getting stuck this year,” he said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this year’s vaccine covers four strains of influenza, including one strain of H1N1.

H1N1 flu is different than most other strains, the CDC said in a report, because the strain is most dangerous for middle-aged people. Most flu strains are most dangerous for older persons, children and those with chronic diseases, H1N1 has a very high mortality rate for healthier, middle aged people.

According to the CDC, flu activity in the U.S. peaks between December and March, with peaks in different regions occurring at different times.

“Normally, we have a pretty late flu season,” Bartholomew said. “Normally our flu season comes in February to March.”

In the past when there were outbreaks of H1N1, the flu season began around October, Bartholomew said.

“Our clinic doesn’t start vaccinations until the first of October because we don’t want that immunity to wane when the influenza is actually hitting us,” Bartholomew said. “Some of the grocery stores and pharmacies—shoot, they’ve been giving it for a month or two.”

Bartholomew said that for the most part, Valley residents are pretty good about getting immunized and contacting the clinic if they do get sick. In a typical year, about 12-15 patients at the clinic are hospitalized because of the flu, Bartholomew estimated. At least one patient has died because of the flu in the past, he said.

The cost for the vaccine at the Platte Valley Health Clinic in Saratoga is $45, Bartholomew said, and insurance and Medicare should cover the cost. The Carbon County Public Health Department is also offering the vaccine at a cost of $25.

According to Amanda Brown, Health Nurse Manager of the Health Department, the department will bill any insurance company, but those with no insurance or ability to pay will not be turned away from receiving the vaccine.

The Health Department is also planning to hold flu vaccine clinics across the Valley in October.

According to Toni Rietveld of the health department’s Saratoga office, there will be several clinics held.

The clinics are open to anyone, Rietveld said.

“I would encourage everybody to get immunized,” Bartholomew said. “It doesn’t necessarily prevent you from completely getting the flu, but it can cut down on how severe it is.”


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