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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Flu shots available for those considered high-risk

Thursday, October 13, 2005

(Photo)
Registered nurse Jeanne Stalker of the Scott County Health Department, takes inventory of the influenza vaccine.
SIKESTON -- Fall weather often marks one of the first signs of influenza season, and this year health officials aren't wasting any time administering their first round of flu shots.

Beginning at 9 a.m. Friday the Scott County Health Department will administer shots to those considered high-risk. Medicare, Medicaid or $15 will be accepted.

And although everything seems OK now, health officials are hoping the flu vaccine shortage that occurred last year will miss completely.

"At this point we're not aware of any shortage," said Barry Cook, administrator of Scott County Health Department. "But like last year, we are at the mercy of the places receiving the vaccine."

Paula Rost, director of nursing at New Madrid County Healthy Department, said she thinks there will be enough flu vaccine this season.

"We do feel like there will be enough vaccine," Rost said. "We don't have all our shipments in yet, but we are in the process of scheduling clinics."

Even with last year's shortage, by the end of flu season most people were able to get a flu shot from one place or another, Cook pointed out. Mississippi County currently has 600 doses of the flu vaccine and also expects to get more in the coming weeks, according to Carlenna Hill, a clerk at Mississippi County Health Department.

Mississippi County Health Department in Charleston will also administer flu shots to its residents on Friday. The health department is conducting its annual health fair in conjunction with its first flu shot clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If recipients don't have Medicare or Medicaid, there will be a $5-charge.

Although last year was a pretty mild flu season, there were 10,855 cases in Missouri with 3,050 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Like Scott, both New Madrid and Mississippi counties will also follow CDC recommendations and administer to those only at high-risk, at least for the first round of vaccinations, their health officials said.

Those considered high-risk are all children 6 to 23 months old, people 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities housing persons with chronic medical conditions, people who have long-term health problems, people with certain conditions that can cause breathing problems, people with a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS or other diseases, women who will be pregnant during flu season and people 6 months to 18 years on long-

term aspirin treatment.

Since Scott County received only a portion of its seasonal supply, Cook predicted the center will run out Friday. But he assured more clinics will be scheduled at later dates as more vaccine arrives.

"We get it as they ship it to us, and we ordered lots of vaccine," Cook said.

According to the CDC, the best time to get a flu vaccine is in October or November. Influenza season usually peaks in February, but it can peak any time from November through May. So getting the vaccine in December or even later can be beneficial in most years.

People who should get the flu shot in October are those 50 and older, younger people at high risk from influenza and its complications (including children 6 through 23 months of age), household contacts of people at high risk, healthcare workers and children younger than 9 years getting the flu vaccine for the first time.

"People who don't meet the first guidelines should stay tuned," Rost advised, "because we will get more."

For more information, contact your local health department at (573) 471

-4044 for Scott County, (573) 748-5541 for New Madrid County and (573) 683-2191 for Mississippi County.