Stillwater News Press

October 9, 2012

Vaccinations protect you and those around you

By Chase Rheam
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — As winter weather approaches, Stillwater residents may be wondering what vaccinations their families need to update.

Registered Nurse and Infectious Disease Nurse Necia Kimber with Stillwater Medical Center said the common flu shots began Sept. 1.

The Payne County Health Department offers seasonal influenza vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Fridays. Other days can be made by appointment or special arrangement after calling for details.

According to a press release from the Payne County Health Department, the shot is “recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older.”

The health department also recommends parents and family members who will be around babies less than 6 months of age and those at high risk for complications from the flu should get the vaccine as well.

The release states that this year’s vaccine formula includes two strains that are different from last year’s formula.

“Getting an annual flu shot is the most important step in protecting against the flu,” said Annette        O’Connor, Payne County Health Department administrative director. “Influenza vaccine is very safe and effective.”

The health department’s District Nurse Manager Pam Dvorak said many people will comment that the vaccination makes them sick. However, some people may see common symptoms such as a sore arm near the shot and headaches for one to two days.

Dvorak said people with what they consider a strong immune system who choose not to get the shot may spread the virus to others with a weakened immune system.

The cost of the influenza vaccine is $25 at the Payne County Health Department unless patients meet certain guidelines. Under those guidelines, the vaccine may be free.

“It does take some time for the flu shot to work so now is the time, prior to us having a lot of illness in the community, to get the vaccination,” Dvorak said.

Oklahoma State University Health Services will offer free influenza vaccinations for students. Vaccinations for faculty and staff are $36 and can be covered under BlueCross/Blue Shield.

The clinic will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday at the Starlight Terrace on the fourth floor of the Student Union. A copy of both sides of a patient’s insurance card must be presented. A consent form has been emailed to OSU emails.

Kimber said Stillwater Medical Center will not be offering flu shots to anyone other than in-patients, staff and their family members because of the abundance of vaccines in the community. She said local pharmacies and physicians are offering the shot, which is free for those under Medicare and Medicaid.

“We just don’t have the need to have the drive through like we did in the previous years,” Kimber said.

However, if a need arises for more flu shots, the hospital will reassess and take action, she said.

“There is no flu right now but be wary and with holidays coming up they need to have their vaccination two weeks before traveling,” Kimber said.

The Payne County Health Department said they require proof of ID, Medicaid/Medicare card and proof of private insurance, if applicable.

Other vaccinations may need attention from residents, too.

The Payne County Health Department will be offering DTaP and TDaP tetanus shots with pertussis and diphtheria in it for free. According to the Center for Disease Control website, the DTaP vaccination is given to children younger than 7 years old and those children should get five doses of the vaccination at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years old.

Kimber said the TDaP should also be given to children at the age of 11 to 12 years old and at least once over the age of 18.

She said anyone who is caring for or near a child under the age of 5 should receive the TDaP vaccine.

“Pertussis is a respiratory illness and it just kind of rears its ugly head every now and then,” she said.

As for pneumonia, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or PCV13, is recommended for all children under the age of 5, according to the CDC website. However, Kimber said the vaccination is more at the physician’s preference based on the patient’s age or morbidities.

Another pneumonia vaccination, 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine, or PPVSV, is recommended for all adults 65 or older, those 2 years old or older at high risk for disease and adults 19 to 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes or have asthma, according to the CDC website.

For more information, call the Payne County Health Department at 372-8200.