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Get flu shot to protect against influenza viruses

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As snow begins to sprinkle Pikes Peak, we are reminded that autumn has approached. This time of the year also reminds us that flu season is forthcoming. Ensuring you and your loved ones are vaccinated against the flu viruses will prevent flu-related illnesses as well as missed school and missed work.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. This virus can infect the nose, throat and lungs. People with the flu often experience symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with a weakened immune system, are at a higher risk for serious flu complications.

The flu virus is believed to spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, talk or sing. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Therefore, it is very important to wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth with your arm whenever you sneeze or cough. However, the single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine each season.

Some actions you can take to reduce the risk of infection are:
· Boost your immune system by getting rest, exercising and maintaining a healthy diet
· Wash your hands for 20-30 seconds lathered with soap and warm water
· Sneeze into your elbow or tissue and always wash your hands afterward
· Avoid close contact with other sick individuals
· Be vaccinated as early in the season as possible

There are two types of flu vaccinations available: the flu shot and the nasal-spray. Both vaccinations are equally effective. The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The nasal-spray is made with live, weakened flu viruses that are given as a nasal spray. An immunization technician will be able to determine which vaccination is appropriate for you based on your specific personal demographics. Per CDC guidelines, flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals six months and older.

Due to manufacturer delays, Peterson received a limited shipment of vaccine. Active-duty service members should report to the Peterson youth center gym from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 16 for their flu vaccine. Eligible TRICARE beneficiaries (including retirees) five years and older may also attend this mass flu line. Individuals with high-risk medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, and young children should visit the immunization clinic as soon as possible for their vaccine.

The Immunization Clinic is closed Oct. 16 to support the flu line. The clinic, open from 7:30 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m., will have the flu vaccine for all eligible dependents beginning Oct. 17. For updates on vaccine availability, call the flu information line at 556-3588 (556-FLUU). Additional information about influenza can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm.

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