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With second flu wave expected, health experts encourage getting vaccinated now


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Sweeten the deal: Nurse Beth Burkhardt (left) gives a sucker to Autumn as she sits with her mother, Lacey Keller. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter).
Sweeten the deal: Nurse Beth Burkhardt (left) gives a sucker to Autumn as she sits with her mother, Lacey Keller. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter).

It's all over: A lone tear rolls down the face of Autumn Long, 2, as she clutches her mother, Lacey Keller. Autumn had just gotten a number of vaccinations Tuesday at the Hancock County Health Department. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter).
It's all over: A lone tear rolls down the face of Autumn Long, 2, as she clutches her mother, Lacey Keller. Autumn had just gotten a number of vaccinations Tuesday at the Hancock County Health Department. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter).


GREENFIELD — The wailing is worth it.

That was Lacey Keller’s attitude as her daughter’s sobs filled the air Tuesday afternoon at the Hancock County Health Department.

Two-year-old Autumn Long had just received her flu shot, and she wasn’t happy about it.

But better to withstand a few minutes of crying than risk her daughter getting sick, Keller said.

“It’s harder on me than it is on her,” she said.

Autumn let out a piercing shriek of disagreement.

Flu season is upon us early this year, and Hancock County has already seen 76 documented cases. If you haven’t been vaccinated, now is the time, said Beth Burkhardt, public health nurse for the health department.

The health department has a limited supply of adult and children’s flu vaccines still available. Some youth patients could have their expenses covered, and parents should call ahead with questions about eligibility for free vaccines, Burkhardt said.

Keller said she didn’t hesitate to ask for a flu vaccine for Autumn, who was due for a round of shots anyway.

“I always had them as a kid, and I never got sick from them,” she said of flu shots.

Hancock County is faring well this flu season, especially compared to surrounding areas, Burkhardt said.

So far, only about half the doctors’ reports Burkhardt has received have shown positive tests for flu, while the other half were more likely respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms.

“I don’t think we have it as bad here as what the nation might be experiencing or even the rest of Indiana,” Burkhardt said.

In Hancock County, the greatest number of reports usually comes in February and March. That’s also around the time a second wave of flu is expected to hit the area this year.

Even if you’re not worried about catching the flu – or know you can tough it out if you do – consider getting vaccinated for the good of someone else, Burkhardt added.

The flu can be highly contagious, and someone who is infected can spread the illness as early as two days before experiencing symptoms themselves. That becomes a problem especially at places such as schools and day cares, where people are grouped together.

Ivan Rodriguez Sr. and girlfriend Emily Stone brought their son and daughter, 3-year-old Ivan Jr. and 3-month-old Daisy, in for shots at the health department Tuesday. Like Keller, they, too, decided to have the kids vaccinated against the flu while they were there.

Holding his wailing son, Rodriguez said he decided not to mention to the 3-year-old boy where they were headed when they all piled into the car.

“… He would have been throwing a fit all the way over,” he said. “Poor little guy.”

Even if you’ve already had the flu, that’s still no excuse not to get vaccinated, experts say.

Each year, the seasonal flu vaccine is specially engineered to protect against three different strains of influenza that are expected to be the most prevalent in the upcoming flu season.

That means even those who have already been diagnosed with the flu once can still benefit from the vaccine, which helps the body develop antibodies to protect against all three viruses.

It takes about two weeks to develop the antibodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information on cost and availability, contact the health department at (317) 477-1125.

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