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January 10, 2013

Congressional Representatives Take to Twitter to Spread Influenza Awareness

By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

Sometimes, influenza has no problem attracting publicity. Widespread fear of bird flu and swine flu drove thousands to their doctor’s offices, health departments or local pharmacies to receive a flu vaccination. This year’s influenza strains don’t have catchy names. As a result, they are stealthily and thoroughly spreading among the American public.

According to NBC News, influenza has penetrated at least 80 percent of the American population this winter. Many lawmakers have used their Twitter feeds to promote influenza awareness. “This year’s flu season is hitting earlier and harder than usual,” tweeted Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio).

Boston mayor Thomas Menino went so far as to declare a public health emergency based on the spread of influenza in his city. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) tweeted that “flu season is hitting Massachusetts hard.”

Image via Shutterstock

Across the country in California, Rep. Jeff Denham (R) tweeted a photo of himself pushing up the sleeve of his blue oxford shirt to receive the flu shot in his left deltoid. “I just got my season flu shot, and I encourage you to visit for tips on how to stay healthy too!”

While some states, like Illinois, report no vaccine shortage, other states have run into issues as flu infections rise. Reporters in both Indiana and Oklahoma, for instance, have reported some shortages around their states. Overall, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that some flu vaccines remain available, although some pharmacies have begun to run out.

Before driving to a pharmacy for a flu vaccine, make sure to call in advance to make sure that the store still has flu vaccine available. In addition to checking with local drug stores, Americans can contact their physicians, local hospitals and local health departments to check vaccine availability.

By introducing dead or weakened flu viruses into the body, the flu shot helps people to develop immunity against the virus. Antibodies typically appear in the bloodstream about two weeks after someone receives the vaccine. Symptoms of the flu include respiratory symptoms as well as fever, chills, body aches and muscle pains.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine via injection, people can request the vaccine in the form of a nasal mist.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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