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Flu shots now available

September 24, 2018

Employees with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a bulletin stating that people should get their flu vaccines before winter hits.

“Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death,” it states on its website. “Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.

Flu vaccines are now available at Somerset Hospital and various pharmacies and doctor’s offices throughout the county.

Last year’s influenza season was a high severity season with high levels of outpatient clinic and emergency department visits for influenza-like illness, high influenza-related hospitalization rates and elevated and geographically widespread influenza activity for an extended period.

The crisis forced the state government to offer free flu vaccine clinics across the commonwealth. The department offers flu vaccines at state health centers for those who are uninsured and underinsured. An appointment is required, according to Nate Wardle, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

“The most important thing that people can do to protect themselves is to get a flu vaccine,” Wardle said. “The flu vaccine will help keep you healthy, and if you do get sick, it will lessen the severity and the length of time that you have the flu.”

Jonathan Miller, a doctor at Somerset Family Practice in Berlin, said that young children, the elderly and people with certain conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and asthma benefit the most from the flu shots. Last flu season 180 children died from the flu, 80 percent of whom had not been immunized, Miller said.

“The flu shot doesn’t always prevent the flu, but those who have been immunized are less likely to get sick, and if they do get sick they are less likely to require ICU level care,” Miller said. “The best protection against the flu is a large group of people, healthy and unhealthy alike, who are all immunized against the flu providing powerful protection against the spread of more common and more dangerous strains of the flu.”

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