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Fending off the Flu

October 04, 2011

W.O.W. Mobile Health Clinic and Washington Urgent Care Offer Flu Shots

That sniffling, sneezing, coughing season is just around the corner. You can do your part to avoid the flu this year by getting a flu shot and following some simple guidelines.

Seasonal influenza, commonly called the flu, is caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract. Every year, an estimated 5 to 20 percent of the population gets sick with the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to flu-related complications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

“Unlike the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and even death,” said Dr. Sarkis Banipalsin, medical director at Washington Urgent Care. “That’s why it’s so important to get vaccinated against the flu.”

The CDC recommends that everyone older than 6 months should get an annual flu vaccination. It is particularly important for people at higher risk for complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes, and those who are age 65 or older, according to the CDC.

The flu is a contagious disease that is spread by droplets that enter the air when infected people talk, cough, or sneeze, Banipalsin said. These droplets can also end up on surfaces like doorknobs and keyboards. People can become infected by touching those surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth, he explained.

The flu vaccination offers the best protection against the flu. This year’s vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research shows are most likely to be prevalent this flu season as well as the H1N1 strain that surfaced in 2009, according to the CDC.

“You can’t get sick from a flu shot because the vaccine does not contain live viruses,” Banipalsin said. “But it does take time for the immunity to build up in your body. Sometimes people get exposed to the flu virus before their immunity has kicked in and they think it was the shot that made them sick.”

Get Your Flu Shot

Flu shots are available at Washington Hospital’s Washington on Wheels (W.O.W.) Mobile Health Clinic and Washington Urgent Care. No appointment is necessary.

“It’s a convenient place to get your flu shot,” said Ruth Traylor, director of Community Outreach at Washington Hospital. “If you get vaccinated at the W.O.W. Mobile Health Clinic, we do ask that you let your primary care doctor know you received your flu shot.”

Local companies can even schedule the W.O.W. Mobile Health Clinic to come to their workplace so employees can get vaccinated, she said. Call (510) 608-3202 to schedule an appointment.

The following is a schedule of the W.O.W Mobile Health Clinic’s regular service locations, which are open to anyone:

  • Fourth Monday of each month, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado-Niles Road, in Union City.
  • Every Tuesday, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Family Resource Center, 39155 Liberty Street, in Fremont.
  • Second Thursday of each month, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Silliman Activity Center, 6800 Mowry Avenue, in Newark.
  • First Friday of each month, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Fremont Senior Center, 40086 Paseo Padre Parkway, in Fremont.

Washington Urgent Care, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont, is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In addition to getting vaccinated, there are steps you can take to stay healthy during the cold and flu season and prevent the spread of germs, according to the CDC. Wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.

If you do get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and throw it away. If a tissue is not available, cough into the crook of your arm rather than your hand.

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

Washington Urgent Care Receives Prestigious Accreditation

Washington Urgent Care has recently been awarded accreditation by the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM). A voluntary process, accreditation enables the clinic to measure the quality of its services and performance against nationally recognized standards. Washington Urgent Care is the only urgent care facility in the Tri-City area to achieve this accreditation.

Accreditation by the AAUCM emphasizes crucial facility and provider characteristics of quality, providing patients with the assurance that the urgent care center they use has been independently surveyed and approved.

Washington Urgent Care is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) Suite 212, Second Floor, in Fremont. Call (510) 791-CARE (2273) or visit www.whhs.com/urgentcare for up to the minute wait times and more information.