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December 11, 2017
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Mass flu clinic set for Thursday

Free vaccines will be available at Union County Fairgrounds

By Janice McIntyre
This article was published October 4, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

The annual Mass Flu Clinic, to provide free flu vaccines for anyone 6 months of age and older, will be held from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday at the Union County Fairgrounds Activities Building, near the intersection of 19th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Those receiving flu shots are asked to bring their Medicaid, Medicare or insurance card, but “no out-of-pocket expenses will be charged regardless of insurance coverage,” according to a news release from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Union County Health Unit. If those receiving the flu vaccination “do not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu shots, the vaccine will be available at no charge.”

Health professionals who will be conducting the clinic ask that those receiving flu vaccines wear short sleeves or loose clothing so the nurse can easily get to the upper arm for the inoculation.

“If you have difficulty entering the building, we will gladly come to your car and give the vaccine,” according to the news release.

“We want Union County residents to stay healthy this flu season and getting a yearly flu vaccination is the best line of protection,” said Tammy Hall, Union County Health Unit administrator. “We encourage everyone to come to the mass clinic or the local health unit to get their flu shot,” she said.

Vaccines are also available at most local doctors’ offices and several area pharmacies.

Even though new observations about the flu vaccine continue to be made, experts continue to recommend annual flu vaccinations for children and adults. The flu virus changes from year to year and this year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this flu season, according to the news release.

“The flu should not be taken lightly,” said Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist at the ADH. “We are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot to protect themselves and their families because it is hard to predict in advance how severe the flu season is going to be this year.”

People of all ages can get the flu. Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they get the flu, he said. These include older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), people who smoke and people who live in nursing homes.

“Therefore, the ADH strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine,” Haselow said. “It is also recommended that friends, family members and people who provide care to people in these groups also get a vaccine – not only to protect themselves, but also to decrease the possibility that they might expose the people they love and care for to the flu.”

He said the flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu, even though some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache. “There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. People with allergies to vaccine ingredients can often receive the flu vaccine safely if it is given in a doctor’s office where they can be monitored.”

According to the news release, the flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching something, such as a door knob, with the virus on it and then touching their nose or mouth. So good handwashing habits are important in preventing the flu.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches and fatigue. People may also may experience dehydration, flushing, loss of appetite, sweating, head congestion, runny nose or sneezing, chest discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath sore throat or swollen lymph nodes. People who experience these symptoms should schedule an appointment with their doctor to be tested for the flu.

Janice McIntyre can be reached at 870-862-6611 or jmcintyre@eldoradonews.com.

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