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Health officials: there’s still time to get flu shot

By Staff | Jan 3, 2013

With flu season in full swing, local health officials want to remind residents and visitors that there is still time to protect themselves with the shot.

“This time of year is peak season,” Diane Holm, spokeswoman for the Lee County Health Department, said Thursday.

The number of confirmed flu cases has about tripled.

“We saw a spike the last two weeks in December,” she said.

Flu shots are made available each year in late summer or early fall.

“As soon as it’s available, we encourage the general public to get their flu shot,” Holm said.

The shot lasts one year and covers influenza A and B.

“It (the flu vaccine) is reformulated every year in order to be sure it is accurate for whatever strains of flu are out there,” she said.

With many students in Lee County set to return to school on Monday, officials are urging those who have not gotten their flu shot to get one.

“It will prevent a lot of illness,” Holm said. “Schools are a large congregating ground for children and adults.”

Flu season runs through March, or tourist season.

“We want everyone to know, it is not too late,” she said.

The county Health Department offers flu shots at its office at 3920 Michigan Ave., in Fort Myers. The shot is $25 for adults; free for children under 18.

On Jan. 7-9, the department will provide the flu shots out of its North Fort Myers office, at 83 Pondella Road. Shots will not be available Jan. 10-11.

People can also get a flu shot from their health care practitioner or regular doctor, or at any area pharmacy that offers the service, according to Holm.

“Lots and lots of convenience this year for getting flu shots,” she said.

The shot is highly recommended for seniors and people with chronic disease.

“There are individuals who are not recommended to get it,” Holm said.

It is not suggested for those who have an allergic reaction to the shot or eggs, nor is it advised for people with specific neurological conditions.

People should contact their doctor if they have any questions.

According to Holm, the shot prevents most people from coming down with the flu. In some cases, people may simply get a milder case of the flu.

“The flu can be a very, very serious illness. It can put them into the hospital,” she said.

Influenza is a respiratory illness.

Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, chills and cough.

“It’s going to keep them safe,” Holm said of the shot.

For information on the flu and shots, call the Lee County Health Department at (239) 332-9580 or visit online at: www.leechd.com or www.cdc.gov.