Stay healthy this fall, winter – don’t wait, start today

Fall brings such wonderfully crisp days to delight in and enjoy. It also signals time to get our gardens, our vehicles, our homes ready for winter. We also can view it as a good time to get ourselves ready to stay healthy this fall and winter.

One of the easiest ways is to get a flu shot. Getting a flu vaccine can help ensure time off is spent doing what you want to do, not staying home sick.

San Juan Basin Health already has been out to area senior centers providing flu shots to one of the groups at risk for developing serious complications from the flu – those age 65 or older. However, the very young (children younger than 5, especially younger than 2 years old –, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are also groups at high risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone older than 6 months get a flu shot. It protects not only you and your loved ones but those you work with and those in the community you come in contact with who are more susceptible to getting complications and may not have had a flu shot.

San Juan Basin Health is offering several opportunities for people to get vaccinated. Our Wacky Wednesday Walk-In flu clinic will start today. You or your whole family can get protected against the flu as well as vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis) and tetanus.

As you may have read recently, there is sharp rise in cases of whooping cough in many states, including Colorado. Because of this, vaccine is being offered at about 1/3 its normal cost through local health departments. People ages 11 and older can receive this combo (Tdap) booster for just $14.70. Additionally, while flu shots for adults cost $25, both the flu shot and FluMist for people age 18 and younger costs just $14.70. Walk-In Wednesdays will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Nov. 14.

Our annual Boo to the Flu event will return Oct. 27. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds and 10 a.m. to noon at the Bayfield Upper Pine Fire Administration Building. Both locations are offering the Tdap booster this year.

Also new and exciting, our Southwest SmileMakers dental hygienist will provide free dental screenings and fluoride for children at the Durango Boo to the Flu. SmileMakers provides children’s dental services and can be reached at 385-4480.

With or without a flu vaccination, we all can take some everyday prevention steps to stay healthier this winter. To help protect against flu, cold and other germ-related illnesses: wash your hands; avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose; get adequate rest; cover your cough or sneeze with tissue and throw it away (or sneeze/cough into your elbow); stay home if you are ill; and stay away from others who are sick.

So get your fall health preventive tune-up and enjoy this fall and winter.

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Jane Looney is the communications director for the San Juan Basin Health Department.