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Westfield Hospital offering FREE Flu Vaccines on Tuesday from 3 - 6 p.m.

Due to this recent surge of respiratory and flu illnesses in the Lehigh Valley, Westfield Hospital has temporarily changed their visitation policy.

Due to the recent surge of Influenza outbreak in the Lehigh Valley, Westfield Hospital, in South Whitehall, has volunteered to help disseminate free vaccines to our community.

To meet the critical needs of the community, Westfield Hospital is offering a FREE Flu Clinic again - this one is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for anyone age 10 and older who has not already received their 2012-2013 Influenza Vaccine.

No appointments, just walk-in and tell the front desk that you need a flu vaccine. A registered nurse will have you fill out paperwork and then administer the vaccine. The entire process will take only minutes - to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu.

According to the PA DOH, "The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by the influenza virus." The flu is easily transmitted from person to person. The flu usually is spread when someone coughs, sneezes, or has a runny nose; this creates droplets with the virus. Other people catch the flu when breathing in those droplets or getting them in their nose or mouth. "In most cases the flu can be spread from one day before getting sick to up to five to seven days after getting sick."

Most people with the flu are sick for approximately one week; however, some people (especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems) can get critically ill. In the state of Pennsylvania, there have been 40 deaths this season from the flu.

Symptoms of the flu generally include fatigue, fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sore muscles. The cough can last over two weeks. Some, especially children, also have GI problems, such as diarrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone (six months of age and older) get the flu vaccine each year. A flu vaccine is still the best way to protect against the flu. The CDC recommends, "Get vaccinated against influenza as long as influenza viruses are circulating. Influenza seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as October, and substantial activity can occur as late as May. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that provide protection against the flu."

Due to this recent surge of respiratory and flu illnesses in the Lehigh Valley, Westfield Hospital has temporarily changed their visitation policy. At Westfield Hospital, visiting hours have been reduced from 24/7 to 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. during this hightened flu season. Children under the age of 18 are no longer permitted to visit in-patients. On January 9, Westfield opened a "healthy waiting area" on their first floor. On January 10, their new visitation policies were put into effect. If you have a cough or feeling ill, then you should not visit a patient in a hospital or a resident of a senior living facility.

Westfield Hospital is located at 4815 W. Tilghman St. Allentown, PA 18104

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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