Flu shots will be available in October at Oregon County Health Department
Flu season is fast approaching and Oregon County Health Department Administrator Shiela Russell said it is time to start considering some preventive measures individuals can take to reduce the risk of getting the flu.
She said the health department will be offering flu shots starting in October and they have plenty of vaccine.
"Last year was a relatively mild flu season but that is not the case every flu season. Some years the flu can be rather severe and widespread as was the case in the 2003-2004 flu season when the Fujian strain of flu hit the United States," she said.
Russell said the flu is mainly spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing.
People can also become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
"Adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before they start showing symptoms until five days after they become sick. That means that a person may be able to pass the flu to someone else before they know they are sick, as well as while they are sick," Russell said.
Symptoms of flu include:
* Fever (usually high)
* Extreme tiredness
* Dry cough
* Sore throat
* Runny or stuffy nose
* Muscle aches
Russell said some proactive steps that can be taken to reduce the spread of the flu include:
* Wash hands often using soap and water.
* Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
* Sneeze or cough into a tissue. Promptly throw away any used tissues and wash your hands.
* Use an antiviral disinfectant to clean surfaces.
* Get enough sleep and avoid stress.
* Drink plenty of fluids.
* Eat a balanced diet.
* Get a flu shot if available.
* Stay at home from school or work if you are ill.
"The only change that will occur in our flu clinics this year will be the fact that we are unable to bill for Medicare or Medicaid. Flu shots will be available on a self-pay basis only," she said.
The fee for the flu shot this year will be the same as last year, $20.
"We are sorry for the inconvenience on the the billing issue, but people need to check with their local physician, they will be able to bill for the flu shot if individuals are Medicare or Medicaid eligible." Russell said.
Anyone can pay the $20 for a flu shot from the health department. Children 18 and under will continue to receive a free flu shot through the vaccine for children program.
For further details call the Alton Health Department at 417-778-7450 or the Thayer office at 417-264-3114.