Wright County Public Health van operations increase to fight flu threat

Influenza activity is increasing Wright County and is widespread across the nation.

In response to increased demand for flu shots, the Wright County Public Health (WCPH) WOW Van will increase its operation in the coming days.

The county has  added a special WOW Van date at the Human Services Center in Buffalo this coming Monday (Jan. 14), from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

According to Christine Austin-Roehler, public health preparedness and health promotion coordinator, it’s not too late to get a flu shot as the season will likely continue for several months.  Some local schools are reporting increased student absences.

WCPH has a good supply of influenza vaccine, including FluMist.  Flu shots are being given in the WOW Van, which visits most towns in the county each month.

Appointments are recommended by calling 763-682-7717 or 1-800-362-3667, Ext. 7717.

The WOW Van schedule is on the county website at www.wright.mn.us at the right side of the home page. The Minnesota Department of Health “Find a Flu Shot Clinic” site also has the WOW Van schedule along with flu shot clinics statewide.  Visit www.health.state.mn.us

WCPH can bill most health insurances.  There is a small administration fee for those without insurance or a high deductible. Wear short sleeves to make getting the shot easier.

Influenza can be very serious.   Influenza is not just a cold or “the stomach flu.”  People can be quite sick and even die. It is a contagious respiratory illness. The symptoms of influenza, which tend to come on suddenly, can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Most people can fight the flu at home with rest and fluids. People who become severely ill with influenza-like symptoms should see a physician.   Influenza is caused by a virus and antibiotics are not effective against it.  The incubation time for influenza is two to four  days and can be spread to others 24 hours before any symptoms even develop.  That means you can feel well and still spread influenza.

Everyone, including children of all ages, should be vaccinated to avoid getting sick with the flu and avoid giving it to others.  It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be fully protective.  While the vaccine doesn’t offer perfect protection, it is still the best tool we have for preventing influenza and its complications. If you don’t get it, you have zero protection.  Generally speaking, the vaccine is about 60 percent effective in most people, a little better than that in children, less than that in the elderly.  Some people who have been vaccinated still get influenza but usually have less severe illness if they do get sick.  Fortunately, the three strains included in this year’s flu vaccine appear to be a good match for the predominant circulating strains.  Minnesota has had some cases of an influenza B strain that is not covered in the vaccine.

To help prevent the spread of influenza this year, Wright County Public Health recommends the following preventative measures:
•    Do your best to stay healthy. Get plenty of rest, physical activity and healthy eating.
•    Stay home from school or work if you are sick. Avoid exposing yourself to others who are sick.
•    Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
•    Wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
•    Avoid touching your eyes and nose as this is a good route for flu germs to enter the body.
•    Clean surfaces often, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.