It's Still Not Too Late to Get Flu Vaccine
The peak of the flu season is often early February.
It’s still not too late to get vaccinated against the fever, chills and overall rotten feeling brought on by the flu, which has hit the Lehigh Valley harder than other regions of the state.
“There is still plenty of vaccine available and we encourage individuals who have not yet been vaccinated to do so,” said Holli Senior, press secretary for the state Department of Health.
“Furthermore, even if you do get the flu after you’ve been vaccinated, many studies have shown that you’re less likely to be hospitalized and less likely to die. The vaccine not only protects you against the flu but also from its complications.
Senior added that “the peak [of flu season] is often in early February, and this year we seem to be on target with that.”
The Allentown Health Bureau, at 245 N. 6th St., will be offering free flu shots from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, and there are no residency requirements. The bureau also has clinics planned from 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 20 and 27.
Where else can you get the vaccine? Ninety percent of individuals who get vaccinated against the flu do so through their private provider. Aside from a doctor’s office or a local clinic, many pharmacies and stores offer flu shot clinics.
Meanwhile, the Lehigh Valley has been hit hard by the flu, according to state statistics.
As of Saturday, Jan. 8, there have been 160 reported flu cases in Lehigh County and 101 in Northampton County – almost 23 percent of the state’s total cases of 1,181.
The state reports nine deaths from the flu, with two in Lehigh County. The victims were ages 28 and 45.
The youngest flu victim was a 2-year-old from Montgomery County, the state reports. The oldest was a 100-year-old woman from Erie. Most recent hospitalizations and deaths from the flu involved people who had no recent history of getting flu vaccines, the state said.
There were 79 cases of flu reported in Pennsylvania during the past week, according to state figures. During the same time last year, 51 cases were reported, with 50 cases reported for the same week in 2009. For the same week in 2008, there were 57 cases reported and 89 cases reported for the same week in 2007.
It can be difficult to diagnose the flu and a doctor’s exam may be needed.
Clinically the flu is similar to the common cold, croup, viral pneumonia and other ailments. The state health department also reports that during flu season health providers may recognize the flu by knowing about other local cases.
A person may be then diagnosed with the flu based on their symptoms and other local cases, but not asked to provide a culture for confirmation.
Thus, the number of reported cases do not represent all flu cases in Pennsylvania, in part because not all people who have it get tested for it. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 10 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu every season.
Earlier Tuesday, Bethlehem-based OraSure Technologies announced the launching of its QuickFlu ™ Rapid Flu A+B Test. The test, which the company said will be sold directly into hospital, public health and government markets by February, will produce results in as little as 10 minutes.