Although the H1N1 pandemic is a thing of the past, now is the time for parents and their children to prepare for the 2010-11 flu season.
This year's vaccine is available at many places in Ahwatukee Foothills and for parents in the Kyrene School District, there are free vaccine clinics being offered twice per month at Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary leading into December.
Kelly Alexander, director of Community Education and Outreach Services for Kyrene, said that the district did more last year, including a comprehensive section on its website because of heightened concern about the H1N1 virus.
"The flu is always concerning," she said. "(Last year) we provided as much information as we could to the community... and we will do the same this year."
Kyrene monitors absenteeism at all its schools. If 10 percent of students are absent on any given day, a health service team is assembled to determine whether there is a school-wide issue with something like the flu and what necessary steps should be taken.
"We want to take as many precautions as possible to keep kids healthy," Alexander said.
Even though the H1N1 pandemic was officially declared over by the World Health Organization on Aug. 10, 2010, there is a vaccine against it in this year's flu shot, along with protection against the H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control website.
To help control the proliferation of the flu, the CDC recommends that people 6 months and older receive a flu shot. They also say that young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with chronic health problems are the most at risk. Flu shot distributors typically see the biggest crowd in October, so if the CVS or Target or any other location has the flu shot in stock, this group of people should go as soon as possible in the event there is a shortage like last year.
Jill Alvis, a pharmacist at Safeway at Elliot Road and 48th Street, said she's been receiving about six requests for the flu vaccine per day.
"It's been quite busy with flu vaccinations," she said.
The free clinics will be at Kyrene de los Lagos, 11820 S. Warner-Elliott Loop, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 5, Nov. 2 and Dec. 7 and at the Kyrene Family Resource Center, 1330 E. Dava Drive, in Tempe on Oct. 26 and Nov. 23. To find out more information, visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/flu.
Reporter Ari Cohn contributed information to this story.
Other facts about the flu
Incubation period and after:
• Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five or seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days.
• Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body.
• People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away (usually by coughing, sneezing or talking).
• CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
Best way to prevent transmission:
• People should wash their hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand rub to clean their hands.
• Cover mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Difference from common cold:
• In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense.