Flu shot clinics set next week at county health department

Flu shots will be available next week in Fulton on Wednesday and Friday at the Callaway County Health Department, 4950 County Road 304.

Jennifer L. Schmidt, communicable disease nurse at the Callaway County Health Department, said the clinics will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 6 and Oct. 8 in the department's Community Room.

"We will remain open through the lunch hour. We can bill Medicare if the patient's primary insurance is Medicare that includes Part B. The cost for all others is $20," Schmidt said.

This year only one flu shot is needed for most people. Last year a seasonal flu shot was recommended and also a H1N1 flu shot to protect against the so-called swine flu.

Schmidt said the H1N1 virus now dominates flu outbreaks. The new flu shot will protect against an H3N2 virus, an Influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that emerged last year. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the 2010-2011 flu vaccine. The H1N1 virus is now considered the seasonal flu this year because it is still the predominant strain.

Schmidt said flu outbreaks traditionally decline during the summer. "Last year was not a normal pattern. In 2009 the H1N1 flu virus peaked at this time in late September to mid-October and we had little flu activity after that," Schmidt said.

The typical flu season usually is considered to last a seven and one-half month period from Oct. 1 until the following May 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The U.S. Public Health Agency reported the H1N1 emergency expired on June 23, 2010.

Schmidt said the flu shot, if received today, will last through May of next year.

The $20 cost for the flu shot at the Callaway County Health Department is priced somewhat lower than shots offered at other places, such as drug and discount stores.

Schmidt said two flu shots are recommended for children age 9 if they did not have two flu shots in one year prior to this year. Children under 9 who have had only one or no flu shot last year should have two flu shots this year. If they started a series and have had two flu shots in any one previous year, then they will need only one flu shot this year.

Schmidt said she has no confirmed lab cases of flu so far this season in Callaway County. "I do have some word of mouth reports of a few cases of flu but I have no confirmed lab case to report," Schmidt said.

Influenza is spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

The CDC recommends these actions to stay healthy:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If no tissue is available, sneeze or cough into the inside of your arm at the elbow held close to your mouth to minimize spreading germs.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread by doing this.
  • Stay home if you become ill. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

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