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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

Greenwich Gets Ready With Flu Shot Clinics

GREENWICH, Conn. – While no cases of influenza have been reported yet, Greenwich resident filled the meeting room at town hall Wednesday afternoon to get flu shots.

“It really is the best way to protect yourself,” said Caroline Calderone Baisley, the town’s health director. “If you don’t want to get it, there’s other things you can do, like washing your hands and keeping your hands away from your face, but really, the influenza vaccine is the best way."

Wednesday’s flu shot clinic was sponsored by the Department of Health. At previous clinics sponsored by the department, hundreds showed up to get vaccinated. In just the first 15 minutes Wednesday, 50 people had already signed up. Most were adults, though the vaccine is being offered to children 9 and up.

Baisley said the reason younger children are not being given the vaccine is that they require two separate doses and the department can’t guarantee they will be available at all sessions. Another reason, she said, is that most children receive shots from their pediatricians.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 5 percent and 20 percent of Americans catch the flu every year, and approximately 36,000 people die as a result. The department received 3,000 doses of the vaccine, which contains the H1N1 strain that required a special shot last year.

The best way to protect yourself against influenza is to get vaccinated annually, said Baisley. “It’s still early. It peaks around January to mid-February. We usually get the first report probably in November,” she said. “It takes two weeks to get the immunity to build up the antibodies against the virus once you get the vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends, in addition to vaccinations for everyone 6  and up, taking precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of germs.

? Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw used tissues in the trash immediately.

? It might seem obvious, but it's worth remembering: Try to stay away from people who are sick. Families, for example, are notorious culprits in the spread of bacteria. If someone in the household is sick, keep that person in a separate room, away from others if possible, until they are no longer contagious.

? Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

? Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. This is the most efficient way to spread germs.

? Wipe down surfaces such as toys, bedside tables and those in the bathroom and kitchen with a household disinfectant.

The next flu clinic in Greenwich is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center, located at 449 Pemberwick Road. Flu shots are $32 for residents under 65. Pneumonia vaccines are $50.

“We like to do one at each section of town to give people the opportunity to get the vaccine as close to home as possible,” said Baisley. Residents who received flu shots Wednesday could also take part in a free cholesterol screening. “We had extra supplies for the cholesterol screening. If we have any left over, we’ll offer more.”

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