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Kitsap health officials expect ‘typical’ flu season but encourage shots.
She sees kids with runny noses on a daily basis. And handles money. Barbara Claussen, 55, who works as a cashier at the Clear Creek Elementary School cafeteria takes no chances getting the flu and her caution has paid off.
“I’ve never gotten it,” Claussen said last week of never catching the influenza virus in the past five years she’s received the vaccine.
Last year, vaccines were rationed due to the H1N1 flu pandemic, but this year’s flu vaccine has been updated to include the H1N1 strain. People therefore only have to worry about getting vaccinated once this season and health department officials assure that there will be no shortages. Last year, 41 people tested positive for H1N1 and were hospitalized in Kitsap County and there were five people who died from it, said Cris Craig, spokeswoman for Kitsap County Health District.
“This year we’re expecting a typical flu season,” Craig said.
Many doctor’s offices as well as drug and grocery stores in Central Kitsap and Bremerton provide the flu vaccine in either a shot or nasal spray form. Craig said to call ahead of time to see if an appointment will be necessary, as many accept walk-ins. It takes up to two weeks for protection to develop after being vaccinated.
Symptoms of the flu can include fatigue, coughing, sore throat, fever and muscle aches.
In addition to getting vaccinated, coughs and sneezes should be covered and hands should be washed frequently, Craig said.
“If you are sick, stay at home so you don’t expose your friends, family and coworkers,” she added.
The state Department of Health recommends everyone six months old and above get vaccinated. The department ordered about 480,000 doses of flu vaccine for children this season. The overall number of total flu vaccine doses available in the state runs in the millions, said Gordon MacCracken, spokesman for the department. Since Sept. 21, Group Health Silverdale Medical Center has distributed the flu vaccine to about 5,000 people.
Susan Hensley, department manager of the flu campaign, said the center anticipates seeing patients with flu symptoms into the spring.
“Now is the time to get vaccinated,” she said.