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Department of Health to provide flu vaccines at mass flu clinics

The Arkansas Department of Health will be providing seasonal flu vaccines at mass flu clinics in every county, according to a release.
LITTLE ROCK, AR — The Arkansas Department of Health will be providing seasonal flu vaccines at mass flu clinics in every county, according to a release.

The mass flu clinics will begin on October 22 and continue through the first week of November. A mass flu clinic is a day-long event during which the community comes together to immunize as many people as possible. ADH staff, health professionals and volunteers work as a team to provide vaccine. Some clinics offer “drive-throughs” – you don’t even leave your car.

Flu is a sickness that infects the nose, throat and lungs and is caused by the influenza virus. If you’re young and healthy, the flu vaccine should be 60 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone aged six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine protects against the three flu viruses research indicates will cause the most illness during the upcoming season.

“Getting an annual flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu,” State Health Officer and ADH Director Dr. Paul Halverson said.

Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and persons who live in facilities like nursing homes.

Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

If you have insurance, the ADH will ask your insurance company to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine. If you have insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or ARKids First, bring your cards with you so that we can file with your insurance company. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company does not pay, the vaccine will be no charge to you.

Children eight years and younger should expect to need a second dose of vaccine for full protection. In some cases they may be able to get by with one dose, and a health care provider can help determine it is needed. Parents will need to contact a local ADH health unit or health care provider, to see if vaccine is available and take their children in for a second dose four weeks after the first vaccination.

Over the last 50 years, flu vaccines have been shown to be safe. An average of 100 million doses of influenza vaccine is used in the United States each year, and flu vaccines have an excellent safety record.

Reactions to flu vaccines might include a mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and perhaps a little fever or slight headache. The nasal spray vaccine’s side effects may include runny nose, headache and wheezing, but the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.

There are very few medical reasons to avoid the flu vaccine. They include life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or to eggs, or a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Persons with a non-life threatening egg allergy may be vaccinated but need to see a doctor specializing in allergies.

Influenza symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, and occasionally stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

The influenza virus is spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it and then touching the nose or mouth. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

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