Facts about the flu vaccine for the family this year

FluVaccineThe flu vaccine is a must have for the family this year and is being offered through a number of county school systems.

This year the flu vaccine protects against the same strains of influenza as last year, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't vaccinate your family.

Everyone 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine every year, according to Kurt Seetoo, an immunization epidemiologist at the Center for Immunizations for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The vaccine only lasts up to six months so it's necessary to vaccinate every year, he said.

New this year, it is recommended that healthy children 2 to 8 years old get the FluMist, a nasal spray with the live virus, instead of the shot if possible, Seetoo said.

"Studies have shown that the mist is more effective than the shot" for that age group, Seetoo explained. A shot if better than nothing if no FluMist available or a child can't take the mist for health reasons.

Also, since the vaccine is the same as last year, children 6 months to 8 years who received at least one dose of the mist or shot last year need only one does this year. If they did not receive the vaccine last year or have not received two doses since July 1, 2010, two doses are required, according to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. If there is an egg allergy, there is still the possibility for vaccination since now there is a vaccine that is not egg based, Seetoo said.

Infants younger than 6 months cannot be vaccinated, so it is strongly recommended that all family members in a household with a new baby get vaccinated so the virus is not transmitted to the infant.

It's best to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine as soon as possible. Flu season can start as early as October, according to the Anne Arundel County Department of Health website.

Flu vaccines for students by county

In Anne Arundel County, the health department will administer the FluMist at public elementary school this fall at no cost. Starting in October, the shot and mist will be provided at the department's Glen Burnie and Parole health centers. The vaccine will be free, but donations are welcome to cover administrative costs. Visit aahealth.org for details.

In Calvert County, the health department will be visiting elementary schools to vaccinate students at no cost beginning Oct. 27. A community flu vaccination clinic will be held Oct. 29 at Huntingtown High School from 4-7 p.m. There is a $20 fee for all but elementary-aged students. After Oct. 29, there will be a walk-in clinic for flu vaccines at the county health department in Prince Frederick on Tuesdays (8:30 - 10 a.m.) and Wednesdays (1 p.m. - 3 p.m.) For details visit calverthealth.org.

In Howard County, both the FluMist and shot will be offered in all elementary schools starting in October at no cost. There will also be free flu vaccination clinics. Check the county health department website for details at howardcountymd.gov, under departments, or call 410-313-7500.

In Prince George's County, there will be community health clinics at Crossland High School on Oct. 9, Pallotti High School Oct. 16, Northwestern High School Nov. 21, and Largo High School Oct. 10. A community clinic will be held at Springhill Lake Recreation Center in Greenbelt Oct. 28. Clinics will be held at the Spring Lake Recreation Center in Greenbelt Oct. 28 and the Sports & Learning Complex in Landover. Vaccinations are free for all. Check the health department website for additional clinics at county health centers at princegeorgescountymd.gov under My Government, Health.

In Queen Anne's County, the FluMist will be given at every public school free of charge. Any student not able to receive the mist can get the shot at a health department clinic on Tuesdays in October. For details visit qahealth.org and click on flu clinic information on the right side.

Click here for more details on where to get a flu vaccine.

 

Dates and locations updated September 2015

 

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