OLYMPIA – An apparent shortage of flu vaccine this fall means the shots will not be available to all of the people who want them; but Thurston County health officials are reminding folks that there are many other preventative steps that can be taken.
The shortage of flu shots is due to the elimination of supply from one manufacturer in Britain . Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Diana Yu says a process is underway to make sure that the shots that are available in our area go to those who are most in need. "For most of us, getting a flu shot is a convenience so we do not get sick, but for high risk folks the consequences are severe. We should step aside and let those shots go to folks who are most at risk from complications should they contract the illness. We will continue to work with our partners on the local, state and federal levels to try to ensure that vaccinations are obtained for those among us who are the most vulnerable."
Dr. Yu says there is a lot the average person can do to avoid getting the flu. "There are a number of steps people can take including-
- Washing your hands frequently, especially before eating or touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Washing after touching anyone who is exhibiting signs of illness such as sneezing, coughing, blowing their nose etc.
- Avoiding sharing objects such as towels, cigarettes, lipstick, toys and other objects where germs might be transferred from one person to another.
- Not sharing food, beverages, utensils, glasses or dishes with others."
Dr. Yu also advises those who become ill with any respiratory ailment, not just the flu, to take some common sense steps to keep from spreading the illness, including-
- Staying at home if you have a cough and a fever.
- See your doctor if you have a cough and a fever and follow the doctor's orders including rest and medication.
- If asked, use a facemask while waiting in the doctor's office, clinic or hospital.
- Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue while sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.
- Throw out used tissues as soon as possible after use.
- Always wash your hands after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose, or after handling used tissues.
- Wash your hands often while you are ill using warm water and soap or alcohol-based sanitizers.
Dr. Yu says, "These easy to follow steps will help prevent the spread of any of the respiratory illnesses. That not only includes the flu but also colds, whooping cough and severe acute respiratory syndrome."
For more information, people can call the Thurston County flu line at 360-709-3080. Or they can visit the flu pages on the State Department of Health Web site at http://www.doh.wa.gov/FluNews/default.htm