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NEWS | Dec. 3, 2008

Tis' the Flu Season

By Public Health 1st Aerospace Medicine Squadron

Once again the holiday season is upon us as well as the flu season. Both are the season for giving and receiving, but getting the flu isn't at the top of everyone's wish list.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus and spreads from person-to-person through droplets released when a person coughs, sneezes, or breathes on someone. People may also become infected by touching something with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. The flu season runs from November through March each year and it's highly recommended that everyone be vaccinated.

Protection against the flu is as simple as good hand washing and getting a flu shot or the new nasal-spray flu vaccine, also known as the Flu Mist.

The Flu Mist is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses and is administered as a spray via the nose. It is given to healthy persons who are not pregnant and between the ages of 2 and 49. We will ask you a few questions before you get immunized in order to determine whether the Flu Mist is right for you.

The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine containing a killed virus and given with a needle. The injectable vaccine is given to patients who cannot take the Flu Mist.

Getting vaccinated is your best protection against influenza infection and both forms of the vaccine provide adequate protection.

You need to get immunized every year. Unfortunately, the influenza viruses change from year to year and scientists need to change the immunization to keep up with these changes. The immunization we gave you last year will not do a good job of protecting you this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced Dec. 8 through 14, as National Influenza Vaccination Week. In support of this, the 1st Medical Group will administer flu vaccinations at the Bateman Library on the following dates and times: Dec. 8  from 1 to 5 p.m., Dec. 9 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Dec. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. Vaccinations are also available at the community center Dec. 16 from 1 to 5 p.m. and Dec. 18 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, call Langley Public Health at 764-5252. Influenza and vaccine information is also available from the CDC at 1-800-232-4636 or at