The first case of flu has not been reported yet in Arkansas, but shorter days and cooler weather often signal the beginning of flu season is right around the corner. The Baxter County Health Unit will hold its annual flu vaccination clinic Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at First United Methodist Church located at 605 W. 6th Street in Mountain Home. This mass flu clinic is part of an initiative sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Health which is providing seasonal flu vaccines in every county in the state.
Health officials stress the importance of getting the vaccine annually because each new season can bring different strains of the virus. The flu immunization comes in the form of a shot or nasal mist and is current for all forms of flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Baxter County Health Unit administrator Lou Anne McLendon urges everyone over six months old to get a vaccine because inoculation is the best way to prevent getting the flu, and for certain people it is necessary.
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Only people with life-threatening allergic reactions to eggs or a history of Guillian-Barre syndrome should avoid the flu vaccine. For the rest of the general population, health officials say flu vaccines are 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing the flu and emphasize that the vaccine does not cause the flu.
Those who have insurance, or receive Medicare or Medicaid, are asked to take their insurance cards with them so the health department can file a claim for the cost of the vaccine. For those who have no insurance, or whose insurance doesn't cover immunizations, the vaccine will be available at no cost.
Earlier this month, area local health units partnered with school systems to provide similar flu clinics for all public school students.
Mass flu clinics will also be held in Melbourne on Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Izard County Health Unit; in Harrison on Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at Eagle Heights Baptist Church; in Salem on Friday from 8:00 until 4:30 p.m. at the Fulton County Health Unit; and in Yellville on October 31st from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m at the Marion County Fairgrounds.
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