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Health Matters: Fighting the Seasonal Flu in Needham

Town officials encourage residents to get their immunizations in Needham; upcoming clinics are scheduled for Sept. 20 and 27.

Submitted by the Needham Public Health Department

The Needham Public Health Department wants to reassure residents that we will continue to provide flu vaccine for this upcoming season.

We will be holding flu clinics as we always have—so don’t feel you need to rush elsewhere to get your shots. It was again necessary for us to purchase influenza vaccine this year, and we will be billing Medicare and most private insurances. Everyone will need to bring insurance cards/information.

We will be offering a flu clinic by appointment on Thursdays, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 for those 18 years and older. These clinics will be held at James Hugh Powers Hall in Needham from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Hall is on the second floor, and the elevator is located on the right as you enter the building from the Highland Avenue side. Call Needham Public Health to make an appointment at 781-455-7500 ext. 511.

Influenza, known as flu, is a very contagious disease of the respiratory system. The flu is caused by a virus that is easily passed from person to person by coughing and sneezing. For most people, the flu makes them feel very sick, but they are generally better in about a week. Young children, people 65 and older as well as pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions can have serious complications from the flu. Persons with a history of egg allergy should consult their physician.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends influenza vaccine for all people 6 months of age and older. Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of severe influenza and their close contacts, including healthcare personnel and close contacts of children younger than 6 months.

Seasonal influenza vaccine can prevent seasonal influenza. The viruses that cause influenza change often. Because of this, the influenza vaccine is updated each year based on information about which influenza viruses are being found, and how they are spreading. The 2012-13 vaccine provides protection against A/H1N1 (pandemic) influenza and two other influenza viruses—influenza A/H3N2 and influenza B. These are different viruses from those that were selected for the 2011-12 influenza vaccine. Immunity to influenza viruses declines over time and may be too low to provide protection after a year. Therefore, people should get vaccinated each year.

By getting the flu vaccine, you can protect yourself from influenza and avoid spreading it to others.

Influenza can occur at any time, but most influenza occurs from October through May. In recent seasons, most infections have occurred in January and February. It is never too late to get the flu vaccine. It is still beneficial in the late winter months.

Watch for clinic schedules on our website, www.needhamma.gov/health, the local news, The Needham Channel, or call the Needham Public Health Department at 781-7500 ext. 511 for information and updates.

Please invest in your community—get your flu shot from the Needham Public Health Department. Keep the funds for flu vaccine in your local Health Department so that we can continue to offer this program.

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