As of Jan. 3 the Fairfax County Health Department has additional flu vaccines available for adults and children who are considered high-risk as determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to a recent survey by the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, only 31.6 percent of adults in the high-risk priority groups received a flu shot in the state — three percent lower than the national percentage.
After Jan. 10, people over the age of 50 and household contacts of individuals in the high-risk categories will be eligible to receive available flu vaccine, although it is expected there will be a limited supply of vaccine for this group.
Individuals that fit the expanded criteria can call 703-246-2411 on Jan. 10 for vaccine availability.
For high-risk patients, flu shots will be offered by appointment only and cost $17. Eligible adults can make an appointment by calling one of five Health Department District Offices:
* Falls Church District Office: 703-534-8343
* Herndon/Reston District Office: 703-481-4242
* Joseph Willard Health Center (Fairfax City): 703-246-7100
* Mount Vernon District Office: 703-704-6100
* Springfield District Office: 703-569-1031
The CDC guidelines for flu vaccine distribution are intended to protect vulnerable individuals who are most likely to become seriously ill or die from the flu. These guidelines are:
* People 65 years of age or older.
* Children six- to 23-months.
* People 2-64 years of age with underlying chronic medical conditions.
* Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.
* Residents of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
* Children six-months to 18 years receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
* Health care workers who provide direct patient care.
* Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under six months of age.
The Health Department still has vaccine for high-risk children eligible for the Vaccine for Children program. Individuals who believe their child is eligible for this program may call a Health Department District Office and ask to speak to the Nurse of the Day.
In order to reduce the spread of flu, people are encouraged to:
* Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing; dispose of the tissue immediately and wash hands thoroughly.
* Frequently wash hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
* Rinse and dry hands with a disposable towel. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet.
* Stay at home from work or school for 5-7 days if you have flu like symptoms.
* Refrain from visiting a nursing home if you have flu like symptoms.
If flu symptoms develop (the sudden onset of fever, headache, sore throat, and cough), a doctor can prescribe medications that can reduce the severity and duration of the disease.
For more information, refer to the Health Department Web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd or call its recorded information line at 703-246-2411, TTY 703-591-6435.