Published Saturday, September 17, 2011
By Jeff Bishop
The Newnan Times-Herald
Flu season is nearly upon us, and the influenza vaccine is available at the Coweta County Health Department.
The cost of the vaccine is $25 per shot.
Health Department Director Alice Jackson says flu shots will be administered by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 770-254-7400. The health department is located in its new facilities at 70 Hospital Road in Newnan. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Jackson and school nursing director Sally Millians appeared before the Coweta County Board of Education this week and thanked them for their cooperation in allowing 12 schools to administer flu vaccine this year. Staff members as well as students will have the opportunity to be immunized through the program.
"We will offer the FluMist vaccine at selected schools," said Millians.
FluMist, an intranasal vaccine against the flu, will be offered as part of a pilot program. The mist introduces an attenuated live virus into the body, as opposed to the dead virus injected through traditional shots with needles.
"These immunizations are completely voluntary," said Millians.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends those six months and older to receive annual flu shots. However, special emphasis is placed on individuals at risk for complications from influenza.
High-risk populations include those with chronic medical conditions, children under 5, and residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
Seasonal flu activity can be seen as early as October, says the CDC.
Those who should avoid the nasal mist version of the vaccine include:
• People less than 2 years of age
• People 50 years of age and over
• People with a medical condition that places them at high risk for complications from influenza, including those with chronic heart or lung disease, such as asthma or reactive airways disease; people with medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney failure; or people with illnesses that weaken the immune system, or who take medications that can weaken the immune system.
• Children under 5 years old with a history of recurrent wheezing
• Children or adolescents receiving aspirin
• People with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine
• Pregnant women
• People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs or who are allergic to any of the nasal spray vaccine components.
"Again, this vaccination is not a requirement, but is completely voluntary," but it will offer a great opportunity for school staff members to make sure their vaccinations are up to date, said Millians.
Dr. Steve Barker, Coweta school system superintendent, congratulated Jackson on running a "first-class operation" through the public health department. The school system "greatly appreciates the things you do to help us," Barker said.
"We do work hard, because we know how important it is," said Jackson.
The vaccinations are also being offered at a number of local pharmacies.