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Statewide mass flu vaccine clinics start next week
(Little Rock, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will be providing flu vaccines across the state in preparation for the 2018-19 flu season starting next week. Each county health unit in Arkansas will be hosting a mass flu vaccine clinic, which is typically a day-long event when the health unit and numerous community volunteers come together to provide flu vaccine to as many people as possible.
People should bring their insurance cards with them to the flu vaccine clinic. If anyone does not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu vaccine, the vaccine will be available at no charge. Please contact the nearest local health unit for information about mass flu clinics. Local health unit contact information can be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
It is important to get a flu vaccine every year, because the flu virus changes from year to year. 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, PhD, ADH State Epidemiologist. “We are encouraging everyone to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and their families, because it is hard to predict in advance how severe the flu season is going to be.”
People of all ages can get the flu. Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they get the flu. 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 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. Good hand washing habits are important in preventing the flu; however, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.