Flu vaccine is available now at Westport Weston Health District

Mark A.R. Cooper, director of health, has announced that flu vaccine is available at the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD) and encourages residents to get vaccinated early.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It is spread by coughing, sneezing, and nasal secretions.

Everyone is susceptible to getting the flu, but rates are highest among children. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times lead to death.

Young children, people over 65, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems can become much sicker and experience complications due to a case of the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year because the viruses that cause seasonal flu are always changing.

The three most common viruses seen today are influenza B, influenza A (H1N1), and influenza A (H3N2).

Every year, one strain of each virus is used to produce seasonal flu vaccines. The particular strain varies each year depending on which are found to be a good match to circulating viruses.

Shots and sprays

There are two types of vaccine delivery. The “flu shot,” an inactivated vaccine (contains killed virus), is approved for use in people older than six months, including healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is made with live weakened flu virus is approved for use in healthy people ages two through 49 who are not pregnant.

For those 65 and older, a “high dose” flu shot is also available. Adults 65 years and older account for 60% of flu-related hospitalizations and 90% of flu-related deaths.

Recent studies show that people 65 and older do not produce as high  an antibody response following vaccination as do younger people, potentially leaving them at higher risk of getting the flu. The high dose vaccine has been shown to improve antibody production, thus providing a stronger immune response following vaccination.

To schedule an appointment for a flu vaccination, visit wwhd.org or call 203-227-9571, ext. 231.

Homebound residents of Westport or Weston may call to schedule an in-home vaccination.

The cost of vaccination is $35 ($55 for the high dose vaccine). Most insurance plans are accepted for payment; be sure to bring the insurance card.

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