Mass Flu Vaccination Clinic Held

Thursday, January 23, 2014
Bryan Allman puts on a brave face as he gets his flu shot from Kimberley Donner at the mass clinic held at the Piggott-Corning boy's basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Tuesday, Jan. 14, the Clay County Health Unit conducted a mass flu vaccination clinic at the Piggott-Corning boy's basketball game. The clinic was planned as health officials battle a deadly flu season which has caused severe illness and death. Officials also note this year has been especially hard on adults ages 25 to 50, as nearly half the deaths in Arkansas have been in this age group.

"We gave out over two dozen flu shots at the clinic," noted Kimberley Donner, APN/ADM, of the Clay County Health Unit. "We are still strongly recommending that everyone get a seasonal flu vaccine--especially if they're in that particular age group. They should also promptly visit a doctor should they experience any severe flu-like symptoms."

The most frequently seen flu strain this year has been the H1N1, which often affects young to middle-age adults, and pregnant women, more than others. Experts also note there are other factors which might explain why younger and healthier people are being affected. "One observation is that only about 30 percent of the individuals in this age group have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this year--leaving over 650,000 unprotected," Donner added.

She warns that individuals who are pregnant or in this age category may experience a rapid onset of symptoms which may quickly progress to severe illness. "The symptoms can include a fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough and runny or stuffy nose," Donner warned. "If you have flu symptoms and experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness, or pain or pressure in the chest, seek medical care as quickly as possible."

Statewide the issue has drawn the attention of health care providers, prompting extra efforts such as the local clinic.

The flu virus is spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it, then touching the nose or mouth. "The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year," Donner surmised. "You can also help reduce your risk of flu by washing your hands frequently and avoiding those who are sick."

The flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, doctors' offices, and local health units statewide. "If you visit a local health unit to get a flu vaccine, please bring your insurance cards with you" Donner added. "If you do not have insurance, the vaccine will be provided to you free."

Those wanting more information may call the Clay County Health Unit at 598-3390, or visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov

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