Due to the recent surge of Influenza outbreak in the Lehigh Valley, the PA Department of Health is offering free Influenza Vaccines. Westfield Hospital, in South Whitehall, has volunteered to help disseminate these vaccines to our community.
On Friday afternoon, Westfield Hospital received 200 doses of the 2012-2013 Influenza Vaccine.
To meet the critical needs of our community, Westfield Hospital is offering a FREE Flu Clinic Sunday, Jan. 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for anyone age 10 and older who has not already received their flu shot.
No appointments, just walk-in and tell the front desk that you need a flu vaccine. A registered nurse will have you fill out paperwork and then administer the vaccine.
According to the PA DOH, "The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by the influenza virus." The flu is easily transmitted from person to person. The flu usually is spread when someone coughs, sneezes, or has a runny nose; this creates droplets with the virus. Other people catch the flu when breathing in those droplets or getting them in their nose or mouth. "In most cases the flu can be spread from one day before getting sick to up to five to seven days after getting sick."
Most people with the flu are sick for approximately one week; however, some people (especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems) can get critically ill. In the state of Pennsylvania, there have been 40 deaths this season from the flu.
Symptoms of the flu generally include fatigue, fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sore muscles. The cough can last over two weeks. Some, especially children, also have GI problems, such as diarrhea.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone (six months of age and older) get the flu vaccine each year. A flu vaccine is still the best way to protect against the flu. The CDC recommends, "Get vaccinated against influenza as long as influenza viruses are circulating. Influenza seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as October, and substantial activity can occur as late as May. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that provide protection against the flu."