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Statewide Mass Flu Vaccine Clinics Announced

The Polk County Health Unit of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has announced the date of their annual Mass Flu Clinic that benefits hundreds in the county each year. The clinic will be held on September 28 at their location on Hornbeck Avenue in Mena from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Participants need to bring their insurance cards with them on that day. If you do not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu shots, the vaccine will be available at no charge. “We want Polk County residents to stay healthy this flu season, and getting a yearly flu vaccination is the best line of protection,” Tresa Craig, Polk County Health Unit Administrator, said. “We encourage everyone to come to the mass clinic or the local health unit to get their flu shot.”

Not only will they hold their annual mass clinic, ADH will also visit area schools to administer flu shots as well. The vaccines are optional and parents will be sent a paper home to fill out and return to school if they want their child to get their flu shot at school.

They will administer the flu vaccines at Wickes Schools on October 5th, Mena High School on October 10th, Acorn Schools on October 10th, Cossatot High School on October 11th, Cove Elementary on October 11th, Holly Harshman Elementary on October 12th, Mena Middle School on October 12th, and Louise Durham on October 13th.

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.

“The flu should not be taken lightly,” said Dirk Haselow, MD, State Epidemiologist at 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 including 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, ADH strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine. 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.

The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. 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 vaccine safely, if it is given in a doctor’s office where they can be monitored.

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 hand washing habits are important in preventing the flu. However, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.

For more information, go to www.healthy.arkansas.gov or www.flu.gov.

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