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Early Arrival of Influenza Leading to Accelerated Vaccination Campaign

If you’re in a higher risk category for contracting influenza, your doctor will be strongly encouraging you to get a flu shot now as opposed to waiting.

In a Department of Health and Human Services Health Alert Network advisory issued last week to Nebraska physicians, State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Safranek said influenza has arrived ahead of schedule in the state, with positive results split evenly for both influenza A and B, as well as an elevated level of influenza-related illnesses.

Scotts Bluff County Health Department Director Paulette Schnell tells us we’re seeing the same situation here in the Panhandle. “We are seeing them through the emergency room, and admissions to the hospital, we’re seeing an increase,” says Schnell. “The flu vaccine doesn’t always prevent the flu 100 percent, but what it does prevent is the severe illnesses, especially in those people that have a high risk for it.”

Safranek says while experts discourage predicting influenza trends, the numbers seen to date raise the prospect of an early influenza season, and underscore the importance of an accelerated influenza vaccination campaign, especially in high risk patients.

Schnell says there are a number of providers throughout the area that are offering the flu shot, and right now supplies should not be an issue. If you have questions on whether you should get the flu shot now, you can contact your provider or your local community health department.

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