Flu vaccinations available at local AR health units

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FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 file photo, a patient receives an influenza vaccine in Mesquite, Texas. On Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, Alex Azar, the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced that pharmacists in all 50 states will be authorized to give childhood vaccinations this fall, due to a federal order that will temporarily preempt pharmacy restrictions in 22 states. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Flu vaccinations are now available on a walk-in basis at local health units across Arkansas.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine, and appointments aren’t required. People should bring their insurance cards to the unit. If they do not have insurance, the vaccine will be available at no charge.

“This year it will be especially important to get a flu shot,” said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, state epidemiologist. “This is mainly for two reasons: You don’t want to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. The second reason is because flu vaccinations can go a long way to keeping people out of the hospital. And we want to decrease the number of hospitalizations in Arkansas as much as possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Annual flu vaccination is recommended for most adults and children six months and older. The flu virus changes from year to year and this year’s vaccine protects against flu viruses expected to cause the most illness this flu season.

People of all ages can get the flu, but certain people are more likely to have serious health problems with it. This includes 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 their loved ones 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. Reasons to skip the flu vaccine include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. However, 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 and sneezing or by touching something with the virus on it, such as a doorknob, and then touching the nose or mouth. Good handwashing habits are important in preventing the flu, but the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.

A directory of Local Health Units is available here.

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