Flu shots are now available at the Jefferson County Health Department, 1541 Annex Road in Jefferson. The vaccine clinic is located on the lower level of the health department and is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointments are needed.

Children’s influenza vaccine is now available at the Health Department for children 6 months through 18 years of age who have Medical Assistance (Badger Care/Forward Health) or are uninsured.

The health department has adult flu vaccine available for persons 19 years of age or older. The adult flu vaccine fee is $35 paid by cash or check, or no charge for individuals with Medicare Part B which is billable by the health department. Please note the health department is unable to bill a Medicare HMO or Medicare replacement plan. Adults on medical assistance will need to go to their medical provider or a local pharmacy to receive the adult flu vaccine.

Influenza can affect everyone, even healthy people. It is a viral infection that may be only a minor health issue for some, but can lead to hospitalizations and death for others. Those who are most at risk are the very young, elderly, or immunocompromised. The nature of the virus is always changing, so every flu season is different and makes it impossible to create a perfect flu vaccine to prevent all flu cases. Every year the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention studies and monitors the effects from influenza; on a national level there are still hundreds of thousands of people who are hospitalized and thousands who die from influenza-related causes every year.

Flu vaccine is not recommended or approved for children younger than 6 months of age or people who have had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the flu vaccine. If you have an allergy to eggs or any ingredient in the vaccine, or if you ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, talk with your doctor before getting the flu vaccine. Everyone else who is at least 6 months of age may get a flu vaccine this season. It is especially important for some people to get vaccinated:

• People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu

• People who have certain medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease

• Pregnant women

• Children younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2)

• People 65 years and older are also at high risk of complications

• Health care personnel

• People who live with or care for infants who are less than 6 months old

• People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications because of certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease

The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.

For best protection, flu vaccination should begin soon after the vaccine becomes available in order to help prevent any influenza from spreading among a community. However, flu vaccination is still beneficial for as long as flu viruses are circulating. Because of this, the flu vaccine will continue to be offered until (at least) the end of February. Remember, it takes up to two weeks after receiving the vaccine to build immunity, so if you become exposed to the flu within those two weeks you may still get sick.

The flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and cannot be infectious, or b) no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant flu vaccine). Common side effects from the flu shot are soreness, redness or tenderness where the shot was given, and occasionally low-grade fever, headache or muscle aches. If you still feel like you get flu-like symptoms after receiving a seasonal flu vaccine, please talk with your provider. Other possible explanations may be that you are: experiencing symptoms from a different illness, such as rhinoviruses that appear flu-like, you were exposed to the flu shortly before your flu vaccine or during the two-week period after getting the vaccine, or you were exposed to a strain of flu virus that the flu vaccine does not protect against.

For more information about influenza or the flu vaccine, please contact the Jefferson County Health Department at 920-674-7275.

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