The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

SRMC readies for flu season


The 2013-2014 influenza season is quickly approaching. It peaks in the dead of winter between January and February, but bears a striking resemblance to the hockey season, as it can span from October through May.

Despite its unpredictable nature, flu season demands some planning ahead by healthcare facilities. The Sidney Regional Medical Center (SRMC) had to place the orders for flu vaccines last March. They have gotten in 1,300 vaccines so far and anticipate a total of approximately 3,000 doses to be given throughout the season.

Seasonal flu is spread through inhaling the germs of one who is infected or by touching a surface containing flu germs and touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Symptoms typically last between one and two weeks.

When sick, you can infect others as early as one day prior to symptoms becoming apparent and up to five to seven days after symptoms present themselves.

The seasonal flu can be deadly in extreme cases. Often times, the flu is a gateway to other illnesses, such as pneumonia, ear or sinus infections and worsening of chronic health conditions. Children, seniors and those with chronic health conditions are the most at risk categories. Over 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for flu-related complications.

Flu strains are constantly evolving, but most flu shots target the three components that cause the most severe illness—these are called trivalent vaccines and are the most common. The standard dosage trivalent vaccines are manufactured using a virus grown in eggs, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The flu vaccine is given in the shoulder and causes some soreness. The SRMC nurses advised recipients of the shot not to baby their arms because the soreness subsides quicker the more active one’s muscles are. Recipients are not to get the vaccine if they are currently feeling feverish. If a recipient of the vaccine has a reaction to the shot, they are urged to soothe the area with ice, not heat, and consult a doctor.

With the flu immunization, if a person still gets the flu, the symptoms will be much lighter and the shot could prevent hospitalization.

In Cheyenne County, the focus is on respiratory influenza, which often leads to pneumonia. Everyone six months and older is encouraged to get the vaccination once a year.

The caregivers at Kids Corner took their preventative measures a step further. To protect their children, they received the flu vaccine and the Tdap, which prevents tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis as whooping cough is currently going around the panhandle. The caregivers received both shots at the same time—one in each arm.

Many businesses in the area pay for their employees to receive immunizations from the community health program at SRMC.

“This is all about trying to keep everybody healthy,” SRMC nurse Tammy Meier said.

For those around Sidney who want to get flu shots on their own, they can simply stop into the SRMC immunization clinic.

A walk-in clinic will be held Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the clinic, which is located at the northern entrance in the lower level of the hospital.


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