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Flu Vaccine Season Starts In San Diego

Evening Edition

Summer is barely behind us, but preparation for flu season is already underway in San Diego. Influenza contributes to the deaths of about 36,000 people a year nationwide. That's why health professionals encourage almost everyone six months and older to get a flu shot.

Syvera Hardy is the coordinator with the San Diego Black Nurses Association. She's preparing to give Rose Ignont, 74, her annual flu shot at a rec center in Southeast San Diego. Hardy is nurse with 51 years of experience and really knows how to put people at ease even when giving the dreaded flu shot.

The Black Nurses Association has been putting on this free clinic at the Martin Luther King Rec Center for eight years.

"Mainly we wanted to do this for the seniors, but everyone is welcome," Hardy said. This year's vaccine comes from county reserves and will protect against three strains of influenza, including H1N1 or swine flu. That virus got its start in San Diego and Imperial counties in 2009 and 2010, killing 58 people and eventually spreading worldwide.

"The people got very excited so they were everywhere to get the shot, so we couldn't keep enough vaccine on hand and when we had it here we had over 400 people," Hardy said. Things have quieted down since then and vaccines are more widely available. But vaccination is still important for adults 65 and over, children, pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes and lung disease.

"You get about 36,000 people that die a year from the flu. They're mostly seniors, babies and the chronically ill," Hardy said, administering another shot to a patient.

In addition to getting a flu shot, other precautions to protect yourself include washing hands thoroughly, staying away from sick people and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth. And Hardy says don't believe those myths about getting a flu shot either.

"The big myth is when people get the flu shot, they swear they got the flu from the shot, but they didn't because it is a dead virus and you can't get anything from something that's dead," Hardy said.

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