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Sylvia Warren, NET Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the simplest and safest protection against the influenza virus (the flu) is vaccination. Flu vaccines are updated every year to better match the strains of the flu virus expected to be in circulation across the United States.

The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The vaccine provides inactive components of the flu virus that are unable to become reactivated. Your body’s immune system sees the inactive virus and creates a protection against that same type of flu virus, so that your body is fully protected if you actually have an active form of a flu virus.

The flu vaccine has many benefits, as it helps prevent serious medical events, it helps protect women during and after pregnancy, it can be lifesaving in children, it reduces hospitalizations, it protects the people around you (including those who are most vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions) and it has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get the flu.

People who are at an increased risk for health complications from the flu should receive the flu vaccine as early as possible, particularly before flu season arrives in Northeast Texas. There are three actions you and your family can take to fight the flu: 1) Make time to visit the NET Health Immunizations Clinic or to visit your family’s doctor and get your flu vaccine, 2) Take flu antiviral drugs, only if your doctor prescribes them, and 3) Take preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, such as avoiding close contact with sick people and washing your hands after touching hands with someone else.

The hours of operation for the NET Health Immunizations Clinic, 815 N. Broadway Ave. in Tyler, are 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Wednesdays it remains open until 6 p.m. Contact it at 903-510-5604 or visit MyNETHealth.org.

NET Health possesses the seasonal flu vaccine that protects against four different strains of the flu virus, including protection against the H1N1 flu strain. The seasonal flu vaccination will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Please note these important reminders regarding the costs of flu vaccines:

— Medicaid and CHIP insurance plans are accepted at the NET Health Immunizations Clinic. The vaccination is free for persons enrolled on either of these health insurance plans.

— Parents of children who qualify for the Texas Vaccines for Children Program will be charged an administrative fee of $10.

— The cost for the flu vaccination for adults is $25 per person, and Medicare Part B is accepted.

— NET Health also provides the high-dose influenza vaccine, which is free for persons 65 and older an on Medicare. Persons not on Medicare can receive this vaccine for $45.

If you become sick with flu-like symptoms, stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to seek medical attention or other necessities. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands often with soap. Avoid touching your face, and disinfect objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Sylvia Warren is director of the NET Health Immunizations Department. Let us know if you have questions about our article or if you have a topic or topics that you want us to cover. Send us an email to ContactUs@netphd.org.

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