Madison County prepares for flu season

Flu season might be coming early this year.

In the last two weeks, flu cases have been confirmed in Park and Yellowstone County and officials are encouraging people to get their flu vaccinations now.

The Madison County Public Health Department is holding flu vaccination clinics in schools this week and next. They were in Twin Bridges Tuesday and will be in Sheridan schools on Thursday. They will have a flu vaccination clinic in Ennis Schools on Oct. 16. Vaccinations are $22 for adults and $8 for children, said Theresa Stack, Madison County Public Health Administrator.

Stack encourages everyone over six months of age to get a vaccine. The more people who get vaccinated, the less likely flu season will be severe in Madison County, she said.

The vaccine comes in two forms: a shot or nasal spray. The nasal spray tends to be more effective because it is comprised of the live, but weakened virus. Each virus takes about two weeks to become effective, Stack said.

People from age 2 to 49 can receive the nasal vaccine, she said.

The main thing is to take all necessary precautions to stay healthy during flu season, said Kathy Tetrault, a certified physician’s assistant at the Ruby Valley Medical Clinic.

People should wash their hands and cover their mouths and noses when they cough and sneeze.

If you feel like you have flu like symptoms, which include fever, aches, pains and headaches, it’s important to stay home, Tetrault said.

According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, the flu can last more than a week. Symptoms commonly develop two to three days after being exposed to the virus.

Flu cannot be treated by antibiotics, Tetrault said.

Flu season usually begins about December and lasts into March, Stack said. The vaccine is effective for a year and that’s why officials encourage people to get vaccinated in October, so if there is an early flu season, people will be protected.

Flu vaccines should be available at all doctor’s offices around the state and is available at the Madison Valley Medical Clinic in Ennis and the Ruby Valley Medical Clinic in Sheridan.

For more information on the flu, contact the Madison County Public Health Department at 843-4295.

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