The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center will begin offering flu and pneumonia vaccinations to the general public Oct. 1.
The vaccine is available by appointment only at the health department's Immunizations Annex at 2303 Dodge Ave., Waukegan. Call (847) 377-8470 to make an appointment or for more information.
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"Getting the flu vaccine is important because flu is highly contagious," said Tony Beltran, the health department's executive director. "An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community."
The health department is offering two types of flu vaccine: the flu shot, which is given with a needle; and the nasal spray, which is sprayed into the nose. While anyone 6 months of age or older can receive the shot, the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) is for healthy persons 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
It is important that persons 65 and over bring their Medicare part B cards, as it will cover the cost of the flu and pneumonia vaccines. Medicaid and All Kids will also be accepted. Fees are $27 for the flu vaccine and $59 for the pneumonia vaccine. For an extra charge, a high-dose vaccine will be available for the elderly and a vaccine manufactured without the use of eggs will be available for those with egg allergies. Children 18 years of age and younger who have no insurance, or whose insurance does not fully cover the cost of vaccines, may receive a flu shot for $16.
Public health officials recommend everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against influenza, especially pregnant women, young children, people 65 years of age and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing.
People with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away. Most experts think flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
The health department is one of several locations offering the flu vaccine this year as it is available at pharmacies and at other providers throughout Lake County. For information, visit: http://health.lakecountyil.gov/Population/Pages/Influenza.aspx or contact the health department at (847) 377-8470.