Excellent health means quite a bit to most people and they can get a small portion of it for free at the Fulton County Health Unit Nov. 7.
Ordinarily, an influenza shot costs $20, but with flu season coming and colder weather creeping in it's important for children and adults to stay healthy and not pass viruses to others. The Arkansas Department of Health said the best time to be vaccinated for the flu is between mid-October and mid-November, which allows the immune system to build up strength during the big days of flu season that are December through March.
The Izard County Health Unit in Melbourne on 1015 Haley Street will hold a flu shot walk-in Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On that day anyone with their Medicaid, Medicare or state insurance card can walk into the office and get a shot.
Nov. 7, the Fulton County Health Unit in Salem, on Highway 9 South in front of the airport, will hold a flu shot drive-through from 8-11 a.m. Another drive will be held the same day in Mammoth Spring at Simmons First National Bank on Main Street from 2-4 p.m.
Wanda Koelling, public health nurse/administrator of the Fulton County Health Unit stressed that those who want to receive the vaccine should stay in their vehicle and a health unit employee will administer the vaccine right at the driver's side window. Koelling advised those who want to receive the vaccine to wear light loose clothing, have their medical cards ready and their arm ready to receive the vaccine.
Koelling said the Fulton County Health Unit wants the drive-through shots to go smoothly. "We want to get in as many shots as we can in the length of time we have," she said. Koelling said in case of an emergency situation, like a bioterrorism event, they want to be sure they can protect the public.
According to the ADH, about 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu complications and 36,000 die from the flu each year and shots are effective in blocking the virus.
Those who get the vaccine can't get the flu from it. "You can't get the virus from the shot," Koelling said.
"If you're young and healthy, the flu vaccine may be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness," James Phillips, M.D., director of the infectious disease branch at ADH said. The shot could also reduce hospitalizations of older people with the flu by 70 percent and reduce deaths by 85 percent.
According to the ADH, those who are at high risk for complications of influenza are people over 50, children six months to four years, adults and children with chronic lung or heart disorders, pregnant women, adults and children with chronic metabolic diseases, nursing home and long-term care facility residents, children and teenagers who take aspirin daily and "adults and children who have any condition such as spinal cord injuries and other neuromuscular problems that could result in a reduced ability to cough."
Some symptoms of influenza are fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat, aching muscles, cough and runny or stuffy nose. There can also be some stomach symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
During the drives and walk-ins, all flu shots are free.