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‘Get your vaccine before Halloween’: Residents urged to prepare for flu season

October 14, 2016
By CHUCK?BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It's that of the year where Southwest Floridians begin to suffer the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head, fever associated with the flu.

That means it's time to take the necessary precautions, meaning it's time for your flu inoculation.

And according to the Center of Disease Control it had better be a shot, since any other form of prevention will likely not work.

The flu season usually lasts between October and May, with it often peaking between December and February. Thousands of people die annually from the flu, mainly the very old and the very young.

Getting an annual vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family. Vaccinations can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

Jennifer Roth, biology administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Lee County, said they have already started monitoring flu activity, with little in the way of flu activity currently circulating.

"It looks like the typical beginning of a flu season. We encourage people to get their shots soon, because we can never predict how early or late it will peak," Roth said. "We usually get it in late February, but three years ago it was in December."

The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu. High-risk groups include older people, very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to flu complications, according to the CDC.

CDC recommends use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used, as their effectiveness has been questioned.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has flu vaccine available for all ages, six months old and up, with this year's theme being "Get your vaccine before Halloween."

"We have posters we're sending out and sending fliers to the school system and trying to get the information out that we want people to get their flu shots as soon as possible," Roth said.

Flu vaccine for children age six months through 18 years old is free. Flu shots for adults age 19 years and up are $30, and high-dose shots for adults age 65 years and up are $50.

Flu shots are often covered by health insurance and Medicare and can be administered through your doctor, and pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens also offer flu shots, which can be obtained through vouchers.

"It's great there are multiple avenues for people to get flu shots because the Health Department tries to make it as easy as possible," Roth said. "Anywhere you can get a flu shot, you should get it."

The HDLC offers flu shots Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Friday from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

To make an appointment, call 461-6100.

For more information, go to or



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