Northwest News

Health officials touting new flu vaccines


As the United States enters the flu-vaccination season, Columbus Public Health is spreading the word about two new immunization therapies.

Medical professionals now have at their disposal quadrivalent, which protects against four types of influenza, and an egg-free injection for those with certain types of allergies.

They add to the full complement of flu-vaccinations already on the market -- a traditional shot and a nasal aerosol -- that help protect people from the three most common viruses: H1N1 and H3N2 and influenza B. There's also a high-potency vaccine exclusively for seniors 65 and older.

Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for the Columbus health agency, said it's a good time to get an inoculation because flu season arrives at the end of November, peaks in February and runs through May.

"It's getting colder," Rodriguez said. "We're spending more time inside. We're traveling more."

Columbus Public Health begins tracking flu activity by monitoring such things as emergency-room visits, sales of over-the-counter cough medication and doctor visits, plus observing trends on the internet, Rodriguez said.

The results are posted weekly on the health-agency's website:

"It is critical to monitor flu activity in our community so we can better inform the public on how they can be affected by flu complications," he said.

Health experts expect an abundance of all types of vaccination this season, Rodriguez said.

"The great news about vaccine distribution is you can get it almost anywhere," he said.

Columbus Public Health offers shots, which are $25 each or free for those who can't afford to pay.

The health agency beginning Oct. 1 will begin offering immunizations in religious, private and public schools in Columbus.

Last year nationwide, health officials saw a particularly nasty flu season, which arrived early and continued with force through much of the winter.

In central Ohio, there were 45 hospitalizations between Aug. 25 and Nov. 24.

"What we saw last year was a stronger type of flu that made people sicker," Rodriguez said. "So we saw a lot of hospitalizations."