On Monday, Sept. 21, the Ashley County Health Unit of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will offer flu vaccinations at the Health Unit, 401 N. Cherry, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in conjunction with COVID-19 tests. 

People should take their insurance cards, Medicaid, or Medicare cards with them to the flu vaccine clinic. If they do not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu shots, the vaccine will be available at no charge. 

“We want Ashley County residents to stay healthy this flu season, and getting a yearly flu vaccination is the best line of defense,” Tammy Cook, Ashley County Health Unit administrator, said. “We encourage everyone to come to the Ashley County Health Unit to get their flu shot.”

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for most adults and children six months and older. The flu virus changes from year to year, and this year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this flu season. 

“The flu should not be taken lightly,” said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations at ADH. “We are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot to protect themselves and their families, because it is hard to predict in advance how severe the flu season is going to be.”

People of all ages can get the flu. Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they get the flu. This includes older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), people who smoke, and people who live in nursing homes. Therefore, ADH strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine. It is also recommended that friends, family members and people who provide care to people in these groups also get a vaccine—not only to protect themselves but also to decrease the possibility that they might expose the people they love and care for to the flu.

The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu, according to ADH. Some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache. There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. People with allergies to vaccine ingredients can often receive the vaccine safely, if it is given in a doctor’s office where they can be monitored.

The flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching something, such as a doorknob, with the virus on it, and then touching one’s nose or mouth. Good hand washing habits are important in preventing the flu; however, ADH has said that the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.

COVID-19 testing will also be available.

To protect yourself and others, the ADH recommends:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

• Practice physical distancing. Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick, by keeping at least six feet between you and others.

• If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, seek testing. ADH Local Health Units provide testing.

• Wear a face covering when you are exposed to non-household members and physical distancing cannot be assured.

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