Fend off the flu

Peak flu season may not be until December or January, but now is the best time to get vaccinated, and Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County has been having a series of flu shot clinics.
A steady trickle of people of all ages showed up at Wilton Library on Monday, Oct. 19, to take advantage of getting immunized.
The nurses pricking their patients’ skin were Laura Word and Marilyn Graham, who offered two types of flu vaccine.
Exactly which strains of flu will be most common this season and how effective the vaccine will be is difficult to tell until flu season is in full swing, but Melody Matheny-Orpen of the nursing agency agrees with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that this year should be better than last year. According to the CDC, between 171 and 179 million doses of vaccine will be available in the United States this year, and all are formulated to protect against the three main flu viruses most likely to make people sick: influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B.
All of the 2015-16 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following:

  • An A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus.

  • An A/Switzerland/ 9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus.

  • A B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. (This is a B/Yamagata lineage virus).

“It was the Switzerland virus that caused a lot of havoc last year,” Matheny-Orpen said. “Each year they look at the hot spots,” she said of the vaccine researchers and manufacturers. “Switzerland last year came out of the blue and created a lot of illness.”
Vaccines that contain antigens for those three viruses are called trivalent. This is what Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County is offering.
There is also a quadrivalent vaccine that is formulated for those three viruses as well as for an extra B strain, B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
In addition to the trivalent vaccine for healthy adults and children over age 3, the nursing agency is offering a high-dose vaccine for those over 65, to give those with weaker immune systems an extra boost. The vaccines the nursing agency offer contain no preservatives.


In addition to getting a flu shot, Matheny-Orpen said people can help themselves by eating well-balanced meals, staying hydrated — “that’s really important,” she said — getting a little exercise and a little sunshine when weather permits, keeping stress levels down, sanitizing keyboards, iPads and telephones, and washing hands and keeping hands away from the face. And, she added, stay away from sick people.
For those who have yet to get a flu shot, there are a few more opportunities:

  • Saturday, Oct. 24, 1-3, Wilton Family YMCA, 404 Danbury Road.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 3, 10-11:30, Wilton Senior Center, 180 School Road.

  • Saturday, Nov. 7, 10-11:30, Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road.

Also, the nursing agency offers flu shots every Wednesday afternoon from 3:30 to 5, through Nov. 18, in its offices in Suite 114, 761 Main Avenue in Norwalk.
The cost of a flu shot is $42, payable by cash or check, or it can be billed directly to Medicare Part B, Anthem, Aetna or HealthyCT. Bring your insurance card with you.
Information: 203-834-6341, ext. 444.