Flu clinics start Monday at health department


JASPER — The Dubois County Health Department will begin its annual flu vaccine clinics Monday.

The clinics will offer the pediatric, adult and high-dose vaccines. The high-dose vaccines are for senior citizens since the immune system weakens with age, according to a health department press release. The walk-in clinics will be held daily from 8 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. at the health department, 1187 S. St. Charles St., Jasper.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests getting the flu shot by Oct. 31 this year, but Dubois County Health Department Director of Nursing Jennifer Merkley said the sooner the better. Flu season typically starts in September, she said, so if you wait until October, you might be too late.

“We encourage you to get it early for the best defense against infection,” she said.

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include chills, a cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches and a runny or stuffy nose. Some flu patients will also have a fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.

The vaccine is particularly important for children and the elderly whose immune systems are weaker than the general public. According to the press release, the flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu, and everyone 6 months old and up should receive one. It requires no prescription and is covered by most health insurance plans, Merkley said.

The flu vaccine works because it helps the body develop antibodies against the virus through the injection of weakened flu virus cells that will not cause the illness. Although it cannot protect against every variation of the flu virus, the annual flu vaccine protects against four variations that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Although not foolproof, the CDC maintains that the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu. Other prevention measures include getting enough sleep, eating healthy, regularly washing your hands, sneezing and coughing into a shirt sleeve, not touching your face and avoiding people who are sick.

People who think they may have the flu should contact their doctors for diagnosis and treatment. According to the CDC, prescription anti-viral drugs can shorten the duration of the flu and prevent complications from the virus such as pneumonia and a hospital stay.

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