|Updated: 10/12/2011 1:59 pm
||Published: 10/12/2011 1:16 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR — The Arkansas Public Health Lab has confirmed the first case of seasonal flu for this year.
According to a release, the patient is a teenager who lives in the northeast part of the state.
Dr. James Phillips, MD, Infectious Disease branch chief at the Arkansas Department of Health said that the case comes early in the season. “However, it is not uncommon to have a few early cases before the first real surge of flu in Arkansas. The typical flu season in Arkansas happens between early December and late March in most years.”
“We want to take this opportunity to urge those in the higher risk groups to go ahead and get vaccinated,” Dr. Phillips said. “It’s also important to remind families that good hygiene can help prevent the spread of the flu. You can protect yourself and those around you with proper hand washing and by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.”
School flu clinics started around the state this week and are scheduled through December. Check with your school district to find out when the school clinics in your area are planned.
Beginning the last week in October and the first week of November, the ADH will provide seasonal flu vaccine at mass flu clinics in every county. 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.
Dr. Paul Halverson, state health officer and ADH director, said, “Flu can be a serious illness, and we lose roughly 23,600 Americans to complications from flu each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone six months and older to get the vaccine. Last year, the ADH vaccinated 387,000 Arkansans in school and mass flu clinics. Even with this incredible effort, we lost 11 Arkansans to complications from flu. Preventing the flu is up to you. Please get your vaccine and encourage your family members to do so, too.”
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. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company does not pay, the vaccine will be provided at no charge to you.