Flu shot clinic participation hikes with afternoon hours
With the flu season approaching, all it takes is one infected person showing up at work or school and soon enough the damage has been done.
However, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department is doing its best to help the county’s residents take the necessary precautions to avoid Influenza.
Friday 72 people showed up at the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center to receive their vaccines at a flu vaccination clinic sponsored by the department.
“We’ve been doing flu shots yearly for the Baldwin City community,” said Kathy Colson, clinic coordinator for the department who helped put together the Baldwin City clinic.
In the past anywhere between 120-140 people showed up at the department’s Baldwin City clinc to get vaccines, but last year’s low turnout of about 30 people gave Colson the idea to have the clinic on an afternoon so more working residents and children could come.
Baldwin City resident Laura Higgins attended Friday’s clinic and made sure she and both of her sons received the vaccine.
“All of (our family) get the vaccine and a lot of times everyone around us is saying they have the flu and we don’t get it or we might just get a mild case,” Huggins said.
According to Colson the vaccine is very effective with few side effects. Occasionally there are allergic reactions, but the main effect is soreness and redness on the arm.
“It just feels like a little pinch,” said Aden Huggins, 11-year-old son of Laura Huggins.
Flu season typically begins around November and lasts through February. Influenza is a respiratory illness. Although it is a virus, it can lead to secondary cases of other illnesses, such as pneumonia. Pneumonia can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death.
“Everybody needs to get their flu vaccine every year. The sooner, the better,” Colson said.
Everyone is susceptible to the virus, especially those who spend time around others who may be infected.
“You really want the elderly and the really young to get the vaccine because the elderly, their immune system doesn’t function as well anymore and they’re more susceptible to the secondary infections, and the same with the babies,” Colson said.
Flu symptoms include a fever over 101 degrees, body aches and a harsh, dry cough. A person can take care of most of those systems on his or her own with over the counter medicines like ibuprofen, as well as with fluids and rest.
“Even with the flu shot, no vaccine is 100 percent, 100 percent of the time,” Colson said. “But the idea is that you’d have enough immunity that if you still do get the flu, you wouldn’t be so sick that you’d end up in the hospital.”
Flu vaccines also are available through many pharmacies and physician offices. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department offers the vaccine on a walk-in basis, as well as at clinics that it conducts around Douglas County.
From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, the Health Department will have a flu clinic in downtown Lawrence in front of the USBank tower at Ninth and Massachusetts streets.
The cost is $28, or $23 for anyone under the age of three. The Health Department accepts cash and checks, as well as some forms of insurance.
Colson said even if one can’t afford to get the vaccine, it is important to do so, so no one is ever denied service because he or she cannot pay.
Whether one gets his or her shot or not, there are preventative measures to avoid spreading influenza. Washing hands, staying home when sick, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow and just trying to stay healthy in general are all ways community members can help to keep the flu from spreading.
More information about influenza is available on the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s Website: www.ldchealth.org/flu.htm.