Published: February 3, 2009

CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa. — With flu season about to peak, a Geisinger Careworks clinician reminds people that there is still time to get vaccinated.

“Getting vaccinated is an important step in limiting the spread of the flu,” Dianne Hickok, CRNP said. “If you receive the vaccine now you can avoid the flu entirely or suffer far milder symptoms.”

A recent study by the RAND Corp., a non-profit research organization, showed that nearly 70 percent of Americans remained unvaccinated as of mid-November making this in important reminder for many people. And, despite an unusually slow start to this winter’s flu season, Hickok expects the number of cases to rise significantly in the coming weeks. Typically, flu season doesn’t peak until February or March.

This year’s vaccine protects well against the current strain, but does need about 10 days to build immunity, Hickok said. Even if someone does not get vaccinated, a person can still take precautions. It’s important to wash hands, eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest.

Typical flu symptoms may include body aches, fever, headaches, a sore throat, vomiting and difficulty breathing.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following groups of people should receive a vaccination during the 2008-09 flu season:
• Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
• Pregnant women
• 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, including: health care workers; household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu; household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

Retail clinics such as Careworks Convenient Healthcare make getting a flu shot convenient and cost-effective.

Careworks provides routine care for common illnesses, including prescriptions when appropriate, and offers a range of preventive services including immunizations. They are open seven days a week, including extended weekday hours, and are located adjacent to pharmacies in select Weis, King’s, and Mr. Z’s locations. Appointments are not necessary and most visits average 15 minutes or less. While patients can pay cash for affordably priced services, Careworks also accepts most insurance plans.