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Washington Urgent Care Offers Free H1N1 Vaccinations

January 13, 2010

Learn How to Protect Yourself Against the Flu

This year seasonal influenza has been joined by another flu strain called H1N1 influenza, also know as the "swine flu." Both types of flu are caused by a virus and can result in mild to severe illness. The best way to protect yourself from these flu strains is to get a vaccine.

In December, Washington Hospital conducted a free H1N1 flu vaccination clinic to individuals in high risk groups. In an effort to help improve and maintain the health of our community, Washington Urgent Care is now offering everyone the opportunity to get a free H1N1 vaccination. The same offer also applies to the Washington On Wheels Mobile Health Clinic. The vaccine is available free of charge for anyone ages 6 months and up. (See the highlighted box below for location and hours).

"I really want to encourage all residents to take advantage of this free vaccine to protect themselves from H1N1 influenza," says Dr. Sarkis Banipalsin, medical director at Washington Urgent Care. "The flu is very unpredictable and it’s vital that people in our community take preventive actions against H1N1 and the seasonal flu."

Dr. Banipalsin recommends that people follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "Take 3" Steps to Fight the Flu."

1. Take time to get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza.

2. Take everyday preventive actions. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and immediately throw the tissue away after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water. You can also use an alcohol-based sanitizer to clean your hands.

3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body.

"Flu viruses spread from person to person when people who are sick with the flu cough or sneeze and someone nearby breathes them in," adds Banipalsin. The viruses can also get on surfaces like door handles and counter tops."

Banipalsin says it’s also important to maintain overall good health to reduce your chances of getting sick. "Get plenty of rest and sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods," he advises. "And quit smoking. According to the CDC, research studies have shown an increase in influenza infections among smokers compared to nonsmokers. There is also a higher mortality rate from influenza for smokers compared to nonsmokers."

Flu Care

If you or your child does get sick with the flu, there are steps you can take to help reduce its severity and prevent it from spreading to others.

Monitor your health. Flu symptoms usually come on quickly and generally include fever (over 100 °F), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, extreme tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting. If you or your child gets sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home from work and school, Banipalsin advised.

"Get plenty of rest and make sure to drink lots of water and other clear liquids," he said. "You can treat fevers with over-the-counter medications. Stay home and rest until you can make it at least 24 hours without a fever, without taking any fever-reducing medications."

Antiviral medications are available that can reduce the severity of the flu, but they are mostly recommended for those at high risk from serious complications, Banipaslin said. Those include pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems, people younger than 19 and on aspirin therapy, and people over age 65.

If you are in one of the risk groups, he recommends calling your healthcare provider if you experience flu-like symptoms. While most healthy people can care for themselves at home, Banipalsin said you should seek medical care if you have difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, or severe or persistent vomiting.

Free H1N1 Vaccinations
Washington Urgent Care (Located on the second floor of Washington West at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.
Hours/Days: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
Call: (510) 791-CARE (2273) or visit the Washington Urgent Care webpage: www.whhs.com/about/urgent-care for updated information.

Washington On Wheels Mobile Health Clinic
Hours/Days: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Call: (510) 608-3203 or visit www.whhs.com/community/wow-mobile-health-clinic
for locations, to make an appointment, or to find out more information.

For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

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