Every fall brings a new flu bug to challenge our immune systems. The flu virus adapts each year and can be hard to predict. The flu shot is designed with the latest strains in mind, and often offers good protection. The Prowers Medical Center Clinic provides flu shots each year to the public. They also vaccinate virtually all staff and volunteers to keep patients protected from the flu. At Prowers Medical Center, it’s flu shots, all around!
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this year’s shot protects against three or four viruses depending on whether you receive the standard or high-dose shot. It comes in shot form only this year, no nasal sprays are available. It has been updated to better match circulating viruses. The Clinic has plenty of the vaccine on hand. Patients can either make an appointment, or walk in between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday. The cost of the flu shot is $46.68, or $28 with a cash discount. Most insurance plans cover it.
“We vaccinate all staff and volunteers for their protection and also for the protection of our patients. They can choose to opt out, but most don’t. Last year we had a vaccination rate of 97% and we expect similar participation this year,” said Linda Neuhold, Employee Health and Education Nurse and Infection Preventionist for the hospital.
State law dictates that hospital employees be offered the shot. If they don’t get it the hospital requires they wear a mask from December through March, or longer if the flu season runs beyond.
The hospital also checks new employees for five different diseases to make sure they show immunity, as well as performing annual tuberculosis testing.
It can be hard to determine if you have the flu or a cold. At the start, the flu mimics the common cold with a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. The difference is the flu comes on fast, hits hard and lasts longer—one to two weeks—while a cold is generally slower to show and more mild. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of the flu include:
Fever over 100 degrees
Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs
Chills and sweats
Fatigue and weakness
Do what you can to prevent the flu in the first place. Thoroughly wash your hands often, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods and exercise to keep your immune system strong.
The CDC recommends that people who are showing signs of the flu should see their doctor immediately for one of two antiviral drugs—Tamiflu or Relenza. When received within a day or two it can reduce the length and severity of the flu.
To make an appointment for a flu shot, call the Clinic at 719-336-6767.