Flu shots urged
With signs that flu is increasing in some Florida communities, officials with the Florida Department of Health in Lee County are urging residents and visitors to take precautions to limit their risk of exposure to seasonal flu. Seasonal flu is an infection of the respiratory tract caused by the influenza virus. Compared with most other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, influenza infection often causes a more severe illness.
“It is very important for Lee County residents to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine helps to protect you and others from influenza,” said Jennifer Roth, DOH-Lee epidemiologist in a prepared statement. “People who have flu-like symptoms should seek medical care early in the course of illness because medications exist that can reduce the number of days spent with the flu.”
Be sure to watch for symptoms of the flu, such as headache, fever, a severe cough, runny nose or body aches. Contact your primary care physician or a local hospital immediately if any of those symptoms appear. This is particularly important for individuals at high risk of severe complications from influenza, such as people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, children under the age of 5, immunocompromised individuals, and people with chronic medical conditions.
While individual cases of seasonal flu are not required to be reported to the health department, DOH-Lee monitors emergency room admissions and hospital flu activity to determine if flu is increasing in Lee County. In addition, state public health laboratories test samples of influenza specimens from across Florida to determine which strains of flu are circulating in the state. In recent weeks, H1N1, also known as swine flu, has been the most commonly identified influenza subtype in Florida.
“H1N1 is a part of this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine, and has been included in the flu shot every year since 2010,” said Roth. “However, influenza strains can change each flu season, so it is important for people to get a new flu shot every year. It is not too late to get your flu shot.”
Flu vaccines are free for children six months old through 18 years old at the department’s Immunization clinic, 3920 Michigan Avenue, Fort Myers. Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Friday. Appointments are available by calling 239-461-6100. Flu vaccine for adults is $30 -$50. Local health care providers and pharmacies also provide flu vaccine.
To locate flu vaccine, contact your healthcare provider or visit
For current information regarding influenza surveillance information, messaging and guidance, visit the influenza homepage at www.floridahealth.gov/floridaflu .
Source: Florida Department of Health in Lee County