PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Donna Machen of Fox Chapel is leaving for Cuba soon on a mission trip. Among her vaccinations was the flu shot because she had the virus once before.

“Oh just feeling like you just want to die – want to be done with this sickness,” Machen said.

“Influenza does come. It causes a lot of illness, a lot of hospitalizations and some deaths,” Dr. Ronald Voorhees, Acting Director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said.

The arrival time and severity of a flu season is hard to predict, but each Spring World health experts try to figure out which viruses to include in the annual vaccine for best protection.

This season’s vaccine protects against three strains of influenza virus expected to circulate: H1N1 Type-A, H3N2 Type-A and a Type-B virus.

It takes about two weeks for anti-bodies to build up in your system.

The high-risk group should definitely get the vaccine and includes those with diabetes and chronic lung disease. Anyone with chronic medical issues such as pregnant women and those who live or work with high-risk people should consider getting the vaccine too.

It’s now easier than ever to get flu vaccine. It’s available at pharmacies, through employers, or doctor’s offices to really protect the population.

The Centers for Disease Control would like to see everyone from six-months and older covered..

“If we can get 80 percent or more of the population vaccinated – influenza will really drop down,” Dr. Voorhees said.

Ample supplies should be available this season, so anyone who wants the vaccine should be able to get it.

The Allegheny Health Department Influenza Vaccination Clinic will offer the vaccine Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The vaccine will be offered free of charge to children from six-months to 18-years-old, and as a covered benefit to people with Medicare Part-B who are not in an HMO and may get vaccine from any Medicare-approved provider.

Injectable vaccine is $25 for others, including Medicare Part-B subscribers in an HMO who are restricted to getting flu vaccine as a covered benefit only from their primary care provider.

Nasal spray vaccine (live virus), approved for people from 2-through-49-years-old who have no chronic medical conditions, is free for children, and $10 for those 19-through-49-year-old.


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