Local health experts share flu shot recommendations

When the 2013 Seneca County Health Assessment was released, members of the Health Alliance met to target specific local health care issues to be addressed over the next three years. One of them is an emphasis on prevention as a tool to reduce diseases and accidents among the public.

With the coming flu season, the Seneca County General Health District, Mercy Tiffin Hospital and ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital have issued a joint statement to educate communities in the Seneca County about the influenza vaccine, particularly the best timing for receiving the vaccine to ensure season-long vaccine effectiveness.

“It was no small task to get both of the hospitals and us to issue a joint statement,” said Jenifer Bayer, the health department’s director of nursing.

Although some pharmacies already are advertising flu shot appointments, it is important to know receiving the vaccine too early may not protect patients through the entire flu season, the press release states. Statistics show flu activity in the United States generally peaks between late December and early March. In northwest Ohio, the typical flu season peaks in early spring, specifically March or April.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibody levels induced by influenza vaccine decline over the months following vaccination. If a patient receives a flu shot in August or September, it is possible the vaccine no longer would provide protection during the height of the flu season in our area.

“The flu vaccine is extremely beneficial in the prevention or reduced severity of influenza. To ensure maximum protection while the influenza virus is active in our area, we strongly encourage residents to receive their flu shot beginning in October,” the release states.