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Vaccinations are key in fight against the flu

Next year is the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic

October 24, 2017

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The autumnal equinox marks the annual onset of fall, the season of changing leaves, visits to the pumpkin patch and giving thanks.

But it also signifies the countdown to the beginning of flu season, which brings serious health risks for young children, pregnant women and older adults.

PeaceHealth clinicians recommend taking steps early on to prevent the spread of the virus.

“First and foremost, getting the influenza vaccination is the best way to avoid or decrease symptoms of influenza,” said Margie Tessin-Mason, RN, a PeaceHealth infection preventionist. “Social distancing is also important; if you are sick, stay home. Lastly, if you must be around others, consider wearing a mask, always cover your cough and practice good handwashing.”

PeaceHealth joins with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, recommending that everyone ages 6 months and older get a yearly vaccination against the highly contagious influenza virus.

“When a large group of individuals develops immunity after being vaccinated, others who cannot receive those same vaccinations due to illness, age or previous severe reactions will be better protected,” explained Tessin-Mason. “As with any medication, get all the facts about a vaccine and make informed decisions.”

Many PeaceHealth communities are currently offering flu shots by appointment and during walk-in clinics.

The coming year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic. A look back at this period in history provides an important reminder of the catastrophic impacts of the influenza virus, before vaccines were available.

During that outbreak a century ago, approximately 500 million people worldwide contracted the flu. It is estimated that up to 50 million individuals, many of them young and previously healthy, died. It was the only time in recorded history that there was a decrease in the world population, especially between the ages of 17 and 65.

According to PeaceHealth’s Infection Prevention department, the H1N1 flu pandemic that occurred in 2009 and infected up to 200 million people worldwide possessed similarities with the 1918 flu strain. However, the number of fatalities was significantly lower due to advances in medicine and the diligent work by local and worldwide public health agencies.

For more information about the 1918 flu pandemic and how to stay healthy during this year’s flu season, check out PeaceHealth’s HealthyYou blog.

About PeaceHealth: PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Wash., is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. PeaceHealth has approximately 16,000 caregivers, a group practice with more than 900 providers and 10 medical centers serving both urban and rural communities throughout the Northwest. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. The Sisters shared expertise and transferred wisdom from one medical center to another, always finding the best way to serve the unmet need for healthcare in their communities. Today, PeaceHealth is the legacy of the founding Sisters and continues with a spirit of respect, stewardship, collaboration and social justice in fulfilling its Mission. Visit us online at peacehealth.org.