You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Flu vaccines still vital, health experts warn


Flu vaccines remain vital in preventing the spread of influenza and more serious illnesses, experts warned a day after thousands of Wright-Patterson civilian employees were told they won’t be offered free shots this season because of budget cuts.

“That is a significant concern from a public health standpoint,” said Dr. Glen D. Solomon, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. “Influenza can be a severe illness leading to a loss of work and missing school and the like and can be fatal in rare cases.”

Flu season in Ohio does not usually go into high gear until January or February but last year the state saw the number of influenza-related hospitalizations almost triple by early December, according to Ohio Department of Health data.

“The risk of having a severe illness is significant with influenza and that’s why we push people to get the flu shot,” Solomon said.

Air Force Material Command announced this week it would skip administering the flu vaccine to thousands of civilian workers at the base and at installations throughout the command because of the uncertainty earlier in the year caused by sequestration, or automatic budget cuts. The move will save an estimated $110,000. At Wright-Patterson, 2,400 AFMC civilian employees received the vaccine last year.

Solomon said that’s not an excuse to avoid the vaccine, with availability from pharmacies to big box retailers, and insurance coverage often paying the tab.

“Missing a day of work, being sick as a dog for three to five days … (versus spending) $32 is a great investment,” he said.

The Wright-Patterson headquartered command’s action appears isolated. Local governments surveyed in the region by this newspaper did not immediately show any that expected to stop offering the vaccine if it had been seasonally available in the workplace.

Flu shots, considered preventative, are covered by Wright State University, Fairborn City Schools, the cities of Dayton and Piqua, and Butler, Montgomer, Miami and Warren counties’ employee health insurance plans, to name a few for example, so there is no out-of-pocket cost to employees, officials said. Some communities, such as Butler Twp. have union contracts requiring employees have a flu vaccine.

Mid-September to October are prime times to get the shot prior to the outbreak of flu season, typically December through February. Nearly everyone over the age of six months should have a vaccine, Solomon said. Those over age 50, and between the ages of 18 to 50 with chronic health problems, and pregnant women are among the most vulnerable to the virus that causes fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.

On average, 3,000 people across the country die from pneumonia and/or influenza each year. Not all of these deaths are directly related to the flu but many are – and possibly could be prevented with a flu vaccine.

“You don’t want to wait to see it’s going to be a bad flu season to get your flu shot because then it’s too late,” Solomon said.

Is the vaccine effective?

How well the vaccine works may vary from season to season, according to Jason McDonald, a spokesman at the Centers for Disease Control. A person’s age and health, among other characteristics, and the “match” between the vaccine and the circulating viruses impact a vaccine’s effectiveness, he said in an email.

“During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccine may be observed,” according to the CDC. “During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, it’s possible to measure substantial benefits from the vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness.”

Solomon dismissed two “myths” about the flu vaccine: People who get it will get the illness anyway, and getting the shot will cause the flu.

Those who avoid receiving the vaccine because of egg allergies have an alternative vaccine for the first time this year, but they must ask for it, he said.

While many employers offer flu shots to employees, most people get vaccinated elsewhere.

A doctor’s office is the most common place, according to the Centers for Disease Control. During the 2012-13 flu season, a CDC survey showed 34.5 percent of adults and 64.8 percent of children received flu shots from a physician.

More vaccines are expected this season than last year, said Robert Jennings, an Ohio Department of Health spokesman. The Dayton VA Medical Center, for example, began an annual flu clinic Monday.

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County expects to have about 3,000 doses of the flu vaccine on hand, when flu clinics open to the general public in October. Last year, 3,452 doses were administered, including 1,975 to children.

Bill Wharton, Public Health spokesman, said fees for the flu shots vary. This year, the shots range from $33 to $17, but no one is turned away because they can’t afford it, he said.

Staff writers Joanne Smith, Sharahn Boykin, Larry Budd, Jeremy Kelley, Steven Matthews, Kelli Wynn and Nancy Bowman contributed to this story.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Winter to take a break?
Winter to take a break?

You have to admit, it seemed winter was going to get off to a brutal start when we received 3 to 6 inches of snow about 10 days before Christmas. Since then, we’ve had a couple of one to two inch snowfalls but nothing major. Over the weekend, we had to deal with some ice. But it seems this January has been known to cause a little “weather...
Nicole Kidman clarifies call for nation to unite behind Donald Trump
Nicole Kidman clarifies call for nation to unite behind Donald Trump

Actress Nicole Kidman clarified her comments on President-elect Donald Trump and the 2016 election results after coming under fire for suggesting that the nation should unify behind the incoming president. “I just say, [Trump's] now elected, and we as a country need to support whoever’s the president because that’s what...
Trump slams 'Saturday Night Live' after press conference sketch
Trump slams 'Saturday Night Live' after press conference sketch

It's not the first time Trump has criticized "SNL." Last month, he called the show "unwatchable" and "biased," slamming Baldwin's portrayal of him. He also previously called the show "boring and unfunny" and "totally one-sided."
Scattered showers ahead tonight
Scattered showers ahead tonight

Patchy fog developed in spots overnight with drizzle possible during the early morning. Drivers may see a few slick spots, especially in the far northern Miami Valley where temperatures have been at or below freezing much of the night. Patchy fog and drizzle early Monday morning Rain chances increase Monday through Tuesday ...
Superbug resistant to all U.S. antibiotics kills Nevada woman
Superbug resistant to all U.S. antibiotics kills Nevada woman

The victim, who is unnamed, was in her 70s. She was initially hospitalized in August 2016 after returning from a trip to India. There, she had sought treatment for a broken hip several times in recent years, most recently in June 2016. Her most recent hospitalization, according to a postmortem CDC report, was in June 2016. The victim died of septic...
More Stories