Leader Blues

Saturday, November 03, 2007

TOP STORY >>Free flu shots being offered in cities next week

IN SHORT: Both Jacksonville and Cabot hold clinics, while Cabot will also have an emergency excercise.

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville and Cabot will host free flu shot clinics next week, and Cabot will take the opportunity to rehearse dispensing medication to a high number of people in case of an emergency.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams asked the state to consider having the clinic in Cabot because he said there is a need to practice mass-medication dispensing in a crisis.

“We are fortunate to be able to implement a system and see what we need to do that day in case of an emergency and see where the plan might need to mature,” Williams said.

He will be volunteering at the clinic on Friday and will be getting his own flu shot then.

If a disaster happened, the Health Department, county governments and emergency management would mobilize and activate their emergency response plans. The mass flu shot clinic will allow them to monitor the effectiveness of these plans. The Health Department has 2,000 vaccines prepared to dispense in Cabot.

The Arkansas Department of Health is holding clinics across the state in 81 county offices. It wants Arkansans to get vaccines now before flu season arrives.

Flu vaccinations are given in one shot that can take up to two weeks to take effect.

Cabot’s flu clinic will be at the Veterans Park Community Center at 508 N. Lincoln St. from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The Jacksonville Health Unit will hold a flu clinic from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at its office at 3000 N. First Street.

“It is our first year doing the free clinic,” said Patricia Henderson, an administrator at the health unit. “Anyone can come.”
She said Air Force base personnel have volunteered to direct traffic because a large number of people are expected to receive flu shots.

Counties will offer flu shots for $20 at later dates. Health units accept Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.
The flu is a virus that cannot be treated with antibiotics.

It is spread through coughing, sneezing or touching the nose or mouth after touching a hard surface with the virus on it. The best protection from the flu is the vaccination.

“The flu shot contains a small amount of dead virus that is just enough to get your body’s immune system ready to fight off the real flu when it comes around this winter,” according to Dr. James Phillips, chief at the infectious disease branch chief at ADH.

“If you’re young and healthy, the flu vaccine may be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness,” Phillips said.
For older adults who are at high risk, a flu shot can reduce hospitalizations by 70 percent and deaths by 85 percent.

Vaccinations are recommended for children 6 months to 5 years old, everyone over 50, nursing home residents, pregnant women, anyone with a compromised immune system (including people with HIV or diabetes), children who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy, people with chronic pulmonary problems such as asthma, renal, hepatic or hematological disorders, patients with compromised respiratory function (such as cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders or other neuromuscular disorders).

Employees of assisted-living facilities, caregivers to the elderly and children or other family members who live with people with compromised immune systems should also receive flu vaccinations.