The Times West Virginian

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January 20, 2013

Flu vaccine isn’t complete safeguard, but it’s best weapon we have against virus

It’s never too late to get a flu shot. And this influenza season is probably getting that message across more than any health professional ever could.

Flu seasons are difficult to analyze until they are over, but there are a few things that doctors and scientists have determined so far. The season began about a month early — what normally hits in the middle of January arrived in mid December. Forty-eight states have reported widespread influenza activity, though it’s starting to wane in some areas.

In West Virginia for the past five weeks in a row, the number of confirmed flu cases is higher than the baseline established. If you look at the last decade of flu seasons, there are usually about 12 weeks when cases are higher than the baseline.

So if that holds true again this year, there could be up to two more months of flu activity.

There’s nothing truly remarkable about this flu season in West Virginia — unlike larger metropolitan areas — other than it hit earlier. But what is remarkable is that 97 percent of reported cases are, in fact, one of the three strains the flu vaccine immunizes against. And while the flu vaccine isn’t a complete safeguard, it is the best weapon we have against the virus.

And we encourage people to attend clinics offered through the Marion County Health Department or pharmacies, or ask your health-care provider where to get a dose. It is far easier to take a few minutes to stop and get a flu shot than to spend a few days in bed with the flu and a few more weeks recovering from the effects.

Also during this season, we encourage people to practice a little common sense. Wash your hands regularly, and when you’ve come in contact with high-traffic public areas. If you feel ill, seek the advice of your doctor. If you test positive for the flu, within 48 hours you can take anti-viral medication that can lessen the severity and duration of symptoms. Also, it’s a good idea to keep ill children home instead of sending them to school, daycare, activities or out in public, as well as yourself.

And since the flu hits the elderly hardest, please keep in contact with relatives, friends and neighbors who may be under the weather to make sure they don’t need advanced medical care.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control say that next year’s batch of flu vaccine will be larger and be based on the current flu season. Anti-viral medicine, like Tamiflu, will also be produced in greater volume.

But while we’re still enduring the 2013 flu season, remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Stay healthy, Marion County.

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    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

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    April 16, 2014

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    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
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    April 13, 2014

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    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
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    April 13, 2014

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    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
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    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

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    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

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    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

  • Putting a cost on safety issue has been culprit in 13 traffic deaths

    Would you believe that an item costing just 57 cents — less than the price of a can of pop — is being cited as the culprit in 13 traffic deaths?
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    April 4, 2014

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