Published: October 25, 2010

Clarks Summit, Pa. — Flu vaccines are now available at Geisinger Health System’s Careworks clinics in northeast and southeast Pennsylvania.

Careworks clinics are located in Weis Markets in Allentown, Clarks Summit, Schnecksville, Stroudsburg and Tannersville.

“We have a supply of the injections, as well as a smaller supply of the nasal mist,” said Lori Pietrowski, nurse practitioner at the Clarks Summit Careworks. “Both vaccines are available to the public at all Careworks locations at a cost of $25.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends those 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine starting with the 2010-11 influenza season. This season’s flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1 and two other influenza viruses (H3N2 virus and influenza B virus).

At Geisinger Health System’s Careworks clinics, children age 3 and older who have been vaccinated against influenza in a prior year can receive the influenza vaccine injection, Pietrowski said. Children receiving their first flu vaccination should visit their primary care physician.

The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including those who are healthy or have chronic medical conditions, Pietrowski said. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is approved for use in healthy people 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant. Asthmatics cannot receive the nasal-spray flu vaccine.

While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, Pietrowski said it is especially important that the following groups get vaccinated: 

  • Pregnant women;
  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old;
  • People 50 years of age and older;
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions;
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu.

Pietrowski also addressed misconceptions about the flu vaccine:

“A flu shot cannot cause flu illness,” Pietrowski said. “The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated, or killed, which means the shots cannot cause infection.”

Nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses, but Pietrowski said the viruses are too weakened to cause flu illness.

She also added that September is not too early to be vaccinated, nor is late-November too late. The CDC recommends that providers offer flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in the fall. Immunity from vaccination will last throughout the year.

”Just because you’ve never had the flu does not mean you do not require vaccination,” Pietrowski said. “The CDC approximates 20 percent of the population catches flu each year, so nobody is completely immune.”

Pietrowski stressed that pregnant women should be vaccinated.

“The physical effects of pregnancy put women at risk for serious complications of flu, and studies have found no harmful effects on the fetus associated with flu vaccine,” she said.

According to Pietrowski, there are some individuals who should not be vaccinated, including individuals who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, those who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination and those who have developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.

“Children less than 6 months of age should not receive flu vaccines as the vaccine is not approved for this age group,” Pietrowski said. “Also, individuals who have a moderate to severe illness with a fever should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.”

About Careworks

Geisinger provides convenient care clinics through Careworks clinics in select Weis Market locations. Careworks clinics provide convenient, affordable healthcare for the entire family – for adults and children over 12 months. Highly trained medical professionals diagnose and treat common medical problems including cold and flu symptoms, allergies, earaches and sinus infections. They also provide immunizations, lab work, screenings and physical exams.