Health Department Director Eloise Waters says the vaccine is mixed by manufacturers into a three-in-one drug which guards against H1N1 (swine flu), H3N2 and Influenza B. It can be administered by injection or nasal mist.
Since it first emerged in April of last year, the CDC reports the H1N1 Virus has caused 341 pediatric deaths and about 3,900 deaths overall. It has also spread around the world infecting an estimated 22 million people.
This flu season is expected to be a lighter one due to the aggressive approach taken by health professionals and drug manufacturers to tackle the disease head on. Unlike last year, the nation is expected to have an adequate supply of the vaccine which is readily available at the Bradley County Health Department and other medical facilities in the community.
Eloise says her staff at the Health Department is already making appointments for Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted on Wednesdays. Appointments can be made by calling 728-7020 and pressing “0.”
It's important to remember that the Health Department provides this service to all Bradley County residents regardless of income. All adults age 19 and over can receive the vaccine which is also available to infants from 6 months to 2 years. The nasal mist is available only to children between the ages of 2 years to 18 years.
If payment for the vaccine is an issue, the Health Department offers a sliding fee based on income and household size. Eloise emphasizes that a lack of income should not prevent you from getting the vaccine. Your health comes first.
While practicing preventive medicine and vaccinations are important, there are several practical things we as individuals can do to stop the spread of the virus.
First, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Medical researchers say this is the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of any disease.
You should also avoid or minimize, contact with others who may have been infected. A minimum distance of three feet is recommended.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Cover your mouth and nose with tissues when you cough and sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible.
It is also a good idea to stock up on food supplies and medications. If the virus spreads rapidly, staying indoors and away from others is a wise thing to do.
In the event of a significant outbreak of the flu virus, the Bradley County Emergency management Agency will publish daily factsheets on the EMA page of the Bradley County website at www.bradleyco.net. The goal is to keep you informed on the progression of the virus throughout Tennessee and Bradley County and offer effective methods of treatment.
It is important that you take every precaution available to protect yourself, your family and your community.