September 29, 2012 9:56:15 PM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
Data shows that only one in three Mississippians get flu shots each year, a ratio area health care professionals and daycare providers hope to improve upon.
Otis Tate has been the compounding technician at Robert's Apothecary for nearly 25 years and said in recent years, the local pharmacy has been offering an alternative to the flu shot, a homeopathic flu shot that does not contain eggs or mercury.
Unlike the standard flu shot, Tate said the homeopathic shot has no effect on recipients and instantly creates an immunity within the body.
"We gave 150 to 200 shots last year,'' Tate said. "Only one or two people still got the flu. The regular vaccine is only 60 percent effective against the flu. It also takes two weeks to get in your system and be effective."
Tate said he hears people say they do not want to get a flu shot because it hurts their arm or they suffer flu-like symptoms after receiving the shot.
With the alternative, he said there is no pain after the shot and no recovery time.
"You take it and you keep stepping,'' Tate said. "It doesn't slow you down at all."
Pediatrician Pam Sykes of Columbus Children's Clinic said she is actively encouraging her patients to get the flu shot or the flu mist. She, too, has heard people say they don't get flu shots because the shot produces flu-like symptoms. Sykes says that's a misconception.
"Misinformation is the classic reason people don't get a flu shot,'' she said. "They think they're going to get the flu from it."
Sykes said those symptoms are really proof that the flu shot is working as intended.
"It may give you some fever, some achiness, a little soreness, of course, but that's an indicator that it's doing what it is supposed to do."
Sykes said her office will start administering flu shots this week and encouraged parents of children as young as six months old to get the shot.
"By getting the vaccine you greatly diminish your chance of getting the flu,'' Sykes said. "If your child has (the flu), you're going to miss work and they're going to miss school."
The pediatrician said the flu typically takes five days to run its course.
She added that the flu can create an onslaught of additional illnesses.
"If you get the flu you could get pneumonia or ear infections just from getting sick," she said.
Bonny Foreman, director at First Baptist Church WEE School, strongly recommends the flu vaccine for the children in the facility.
"The flu just spreads so quickly,'' Foreman said. "The more children that have the shot or the mist, the better off we are."
As a convenience to parents, the daycare facility brings in local pediatricians to administer the shot or the flu mist if parents elect to do so.
"It strictly by choice,'' she said. "I mainly do it as a convenience for parents so they don't have to take off work."
Foreman said that when the shot is administered at school, the children seem to respond better.
"They're surrounded by their friends,'' she said. "They aren't in a doctor's office. They don't cry as much. They get it and then go back and play."
Sykes said that all children and elderly should get the shot but especially those who are considered critical or high risk.
She also added that studies have proven those who get the flu shot are less likely to catch other seasonal viruses.
"Studies have proven that just getting the flu vaccine may decrease other illnesses,'' she said.
The homeopathic flu shot is available for $25. The standard flu shot cost approximately $30.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.