Flu shots urged before season peaks

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County health workers provided free flu shots to folks at the Cherry Auction south of town.

It's the last free mobile clinic of the year, and Brian Nowell of Fresno was glad to get a shot.

"I guess to help me out and not catching the flu. I know it doesn't prevent every strain, but any little bit helps. "

Last year Fresno County recorded 7 flu deaths and 8 hospitalizations for those under 65. There haven't been any yet this year, but Health Educator Leticia Berber says if you haven't had a flu shot yet, now is the time to get one because the peak season is coming.

"Actually we start seeing cases of the flu, December all the way to January, that's when we see that peak of individuals going to the ER with flu symptoms. Seeing flu cases of deaths of hospitalizations so this is the perfect time to get the flu vaccine, it's not too late."

While it peaks in January flu season continues through March, and it takes two weeks for flu shots to work. They are from 40 to 60 percent effective, but can dramatically reduce deaths and hospitalizations even for those who still get a version of the flu. Janie Rodriguez is one of those giving the shots, and has to remind folks the flu shot does not give you the flu.

" A lot of people are scared of the needles, a lot of people are scared of the flu, they are always saying if we get the flu shot they get the flu, which is not true. You do sometimes get a little bit of symptoms, like the headache, achy-ness and the runny nose that's not the flu."

This was the last free mobile clinic of the year, and the health department clinic downtown has been temporarily closed due to flooding. But those needing a shot are encouraged to go to their doctor, or get a shot at a local drug store.

Berber says, "We are not pushing the vaccine we are promoting the vaccine and we are stating facts about the importance of getting the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is the best weapon against the flu, the best weapon against death caused by the flu, hospitalizations caused by the flu, so we are promoting this flu vaccine and right now it's not too late."
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