Cast your ballot, get a flu shot when the Darien Health Department hosts "Vote & Vax" on Election Day, Nov. 6, from 3 to 7 p.m. in the town hall auditorium.
The flu vaccine costs $30 and the pneumonia vaccine costs $70, but voting is absolutely free.
Each of the vaccines is payable by check or through Medicare Part B, and both vaccines are also available by appointment in the Health Department office every Monday from 9 a.m. to noon. Appointments may be scheduled at www.darienct.gov.
Health Director David Knauff believes it's imperative for people to get vaccinated.
"The Centers for Disease Control says it's the single most effective way to prevent yourself from getting the flu is to get vaccinated," Knauff said.
Flu season usually begins in mid- to late-November, is most active from December through February and runs into April or sometimes into May.
"It seems to be related to seasons," Knauff said, "related to when people are going back inside, when buildings are closed up, when people tend to spend more time breathing the same air as each other. We're not exactly sure why it comes around every fall; those are some of the theories."
Manufacturers are making 146 million to 149 million flu vaccine doses this season, according to CDC estimates. Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesman, said that is expected to more than cover those who want the shot nationwide.
"We can't really predict what kind of flu season we are going to have because each one is unique in itself," Skinner said. "We do know we are going to have an active flu season and vaccination is the best way to remain healthy and avoid infection."
Knauff echoed Skinner. "The flu virus mutates, it constantly changes," he said.
The CDC, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, the Food & Drug Administration and other institutions, chooses in advance what strains of the flu virus it believes will be the most prominent in the coming year, according to Knauff.
Skinner added that the three circulating viruses believed most likely to cause illness because of their contagiousness or prevalence during the season are included in the vaccine.
"We make the selection in February and try to guess based on what is going on around the world," Skinner said.
Knauff offered tips on how to prevent the flu, other than getting a vaccination.
"Obviously, it's spread via contact with others, so hand washing is an important thing. When you're coughing cough into the crook of your arm -- don't broadcast droplets around. Pretty much minimizing direct contact with other people," he said.
Staff writer Martin B. Cassidy contributed to this report.
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