Dallas Offers Flu Shots To Entire Family

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Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) will offer flu shots to children age 6 months to 18 years.

Parents must bring their children's immunization records with them in order for their child to receive a flu shot. The Immunization Clinic is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday at the DCHHS building, 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, first floor, Dallas, TX 75207. No appointment is necessary.

"DCHHS has received our shipment of flu vaccine for children through the Vaccines for Children Program (VCF) and are now able to offer the protection of the flu shot to the entire family," stated Zachary Thompson, DCHHS Director.

Starting this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children 6 months of age to age 18 receive the flu vaccine. Children under the age of 9 receiving the flu shot for the first time will need two doses given four weeks apart. Influenza is a serious illness that can cause complications including pneumonia, dehydration, worsening of long-term medical problems like heart disease or asthma, encephalopathy, and other bacterial infections, including sinus and ear infections. In some cases, these complications can lead to hospitalization and death.

This year's campaign theme is "Flu. What Should You Do?" There are four simple steps each person can take to help keep themselves and their families healthy during flu season:

• Get a flu shot;

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;

• Cover you mouth with your sleeve when you cough or sneeze; and

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• Stay home when you are sick, to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.

In addition to children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual influenza vaccinations for:

• All persons who want to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza or of transmitting influenza to others.

• Adults aged 50 and older.

• All women who will be pregnant during influenza season.

• Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

• Healthcare workers with direct patient care. New law requires acute care hospitals to offer vaccine to all employees free of charge.

• Individuals with underlying chronic medical conditions.

The CDC has reported that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 die in the United States due to influenza and its complications. Influenza is not a reportable condition so the exact numbers of persons infected each year is unknown. However, DCHHS utilizes a surveillance network of reporting sites around the County which include viral laboratories, outpatient medical sites, participating hospitals, and area public school districts to track influenza levels and identify circulating strains of the virus. This information is used to track illness trends and identify potential clusters or outbreaks of cases.

The 2008--09 trivalent vaccine virus strains are A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like, A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like, and B/Florida/4/2006-like antigens. Influenza is an acute respiratory illness that is spread from infected persons to the throat or nose of others. Signs and symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headache and muscle aches. It usually lasts a few days, but can last much longer and cause severe illness.

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