Check it out: Time to think about flu shots

  • University of Massachusetts College of Nursing junior John Garr prepares a flu shot during a walk-in campus flu clinic at University Health Services on Friday, December 2, 2016.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Compiled by Debra Scherban. Send items of interest to dscherban@gazettenet.com.

Time to think about flu shots

The prime time to get the flu vaccine, which can take up to two week to kick in, is by the end of October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. And the CDC recommends that everyone six months old and up get it, unless a doctor advises against it due to pre-existing conditions.

The flu season typically peaks in December and January, but it can start as early as October and last into spring, as it did last season in Western Massachusetts.

Dr. Daniel Skiest, chief of the Infectious Disease Division at Baystate Medical Center is Springfield, says the question of whether an individual can get the shot too early has been raised.

“That’s a somewhat controversial subject right now,” he said in a statement released by Baystate. “Although more research is needed, what we are beginning to learn from some studies is that the vaccine may wane as the season progresses.” He said that is especially true for those older than 65. He added that a special high dose vaccine is now available for that age group.

Like the elderly, young children also are at high risk for serious flu complications, as are people with heart disease, and pregnant women, according to the CDC. Pneumonia is one complication, says Skiest, as is the worsening of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

While in the past many parents have sought the nasal spray (FluMist) for their children who feared needles, the CDC says it has proven to be ineffective in preventing infections caused by H1N1 influenza strains and advises that it not be used.

In its statement, Baystate reports that doctors urging the public to get flu shots note that individuals cannot get the virus from the vaccine though they may experience soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, or even a mild fever or headache.

For those with egg allergies, the statement says, there are now flu vaccines that do not contain egg proteins, such as Flublok as well as other flu vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In addition to getting the shot, other measures to take to avoid the flu include: staying away from those who have it, washing your hands with soap and water, and covering your mouth when coughing or your nose when sneezing,” said Skiest.

Events focus on hoarding disorder

When collecting stuff becomes a problem, hoarders may put their own health and safety at risk, ruin relationships, or even get themselves evicted from their homes.

These are just a few reasons the local social service agency, ServiceNet, is involved in two upcoming events aimed at helping those struggling with the condition.

The first is a series for those who have the disorder. Beginning Sept. 18, The Buried Treasure Workshop will run for 16 weeks on Mondays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Northampton. The sessions, which are $40 each, are covered by MassHealth and Health New England.

For more information or to find out more about individual counseling or group therapy, contact Tara Ferrante at 587-7731 or tferrante@servicenet.org.

On Oct. 18, experts in the field are coming together at a conference: Hoarding: Recovery is Real at the Hadley Farms Meeting House in Hadley.

Professionals will discuss the latest clinical developments in the diagnosis and treatment of hoarding disorder. Attendees also will hear from people living with hoarding disorder, experienced peer advocates and trainers. Smith College Psychology professor Randy Frost, co-author of “ Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and The Meaning of Things,” will be one of the speakers.

The registration fee is $85, and continuing education units (CEUs) are available for professionals. To register, go to: www.eventbrite.com/e/htf- hoarding-conference-tickets-36609791873 or see the Event listings on ServiceNet’s Facebook page.

In addition to ServiceNet, the event is sponsored by The Center for Human Development in Springfield, and the western Massachusetts publication Healthcare News.