Vaccine available at UH Health Center as flu season begins
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the number of flu cases is already on the rise.
While the virus can occur at any time throughout the year, the months during which the majority of cases are reported — November through May — are fast approaching.
In the most recent seasons, most infections have occurred in January and February, the Center for Disease Control reported, so it is not too late to get a vaccine and avoid the flu’s aches and pains.
This year’s vaccine provides protection against three strains of the virus: A/H1N1, the “swine flu” strain that caused much concern last year; A/H3N2, the most common form of the virus in 2009; and influenza B.
The UH Health Center carries the flu vaccine in its inactivated form, given by injection into the muscle.
Inactivated vaccines contain virus particles that were grown in lab cultures and then destroyed so that they cannot replicate. This process leaves the virus’s proteins intact in order for the immune system to learn to recognize them and evoke a response.
The CDC recommends that persons six months of age and older receive the vaccine, but places greater emphasis on pregnant women, children younger than five, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities and those 50 years of age or older.
The CDC also recommends the vaccine for anybody in close contact with those who are at a higher risk for flu-related complications.
The vaccine is not recommended for anybody with a severe egg allergy, as the vaccine virus is grown in eggs.
Side effects, although rare, include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, hoarseness, cough, fever, aches and sore, red or itchy eyes.
According to the CDC, if any of these side effects occur, they will usually begin soon after the shot and last for one to two days.
The vaccine is available in limited supply from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Health Center for $21 on a first come, first serve basis. Walk-ins are welcome.
For more information, visit www.uh.edu/admin/hc/.