With flu season nearing, Sharp County Health Unit has arranged a "drive by shooting" for Nov. 7. Sharp County Health Unit is one of 81 health units statewide participating in a one-day mass flu vaccination clinic.
The clinic will be held Nov. 7 starting at 9 a.m. at the Highland Assembly of God Church, located off Highway 62/412. Vaccinations will be given as long as supplies last or until 5 p.m.
Although the main purpose of the clinic is to vaccinate those in need, this is also a great way to practice the county's mass dispensing plan. This plan is designed to insure that health professionals and volunteers are prepared to vaccinate or dispense medication to a large population in a very short period of time.
"The time to practice dispensing large amounts of medication is now, before we have a disaster," Tommy Taylor, Sharp County Health Officer said. "It's important for Sharp County citizens to get their flu shot to protect them from influenza this year."
This one day event is a chance for public health professionals to collaborate with other emergency response teams and test the effectiveness of the plans in the event of a national or local flu pandemic or bioterrorism incident. The one day clinic will dispense approximately 1,000 doses of free influenza vaccine to citizens six months and older.
The Arkansas Department of Health has reported that there is an ample supply of vaccine this year. Arkansas is receiving 263,000 doses of the vaccine for use in local health clinics, nursing homes and Vaccines For Children provider offices.
The vaccine will be delivered to all of the clinics and will be available to the public for free at the one-day Mass Dispensing Clinics. After the clinics, shots will be available for $20 each for anyone not enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, the Vaccines for Children Program or selected state insurance programs.
The symptoms for the influenza virus include: high fever, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose and occasionally stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness resulting in 25-50 million infections and 36,000 deaths in the United States each year. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year.
The Health Department stated that you cannot get the flu from the vaccination. They explained the vaccination is made of dead virus and cannot cause you to get the flu. The vaccine usually becomes effective two weeks after being administered; therefore, the best time to be vaccinated is mid-October and November, however it can still be beneficial to get the vaccine even later because typical flu season runs from mid-December through March.
Aside from the vaccination given in shot form, there is another type of vaccination available. The intranasal spray flu vaccine, which is needle free, is approved for use in healthy people ranging in age from 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. The nasal spray vaccine will not be available at Arkansas Department of Health clinics.
"For many years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and physicians have recommended that all pregnant women get the flu shot since they are at high risk for complications," Branch Chief for Family Health in the Center for Health Advancement at ADH, Dr. Richard Nugent said. "We have known the shot protects pregnant women. Now we know that the protection for the mother also extends to the baby, even for a short time after the baby is born."
People with a severe allergy to eggs and people who previously had history of Guilain-Barre syndrome during the six weeks after receiving the vaccine should not get vaccinated.
The Sharp County Health Department asks anyone who plans to attend the "drive by shooting" Nov. 7 at the Highland Assembly of God Church to have their Medicaid, Medicare or state insurance card, as well as their drivers license ready for faster service.
There is no need to leave your car for the vaccine.
For additional information contact the Sharp County Health Unit in Ash Flat at 870-994-7364.