Health department begins flu vaccine clinics

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — Despite temperatures still hovering in the 80s, the Dubois County Health Department is starting to prepare for flu season.

The department began its daily flu vaccine clinics Wednesday and will offer adult and pediatric doses of the seasonal vaccine, as well as the high dose vaccine for those age 65 and up. Flu Block will be available for those between the ages of 50 and 64, and a pneumonia vaccine is also available.

The flu vaccines, which include four strains of the virus, cause your body to develop antibodies against the virus, you less likely to catch the seasonal bug.

“We’re hoping [the clinics] will be as popular as they were last year,” said Jennifer Merkley, director of nursing at the health department.

Merkley advises everyone to get the flu vaccine, as it is the most effective way to prevent the flu. However, the vaccine is especially important for children younger than 5 and adults 65 and older, as well as pregnant women, smokers and people with certain medical conditions. People living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities and those who come in frequent contact with them should also get vaccinated.

Merkley said that an annual flu vaccine is important because each year’s vaccine is geared toward the coming flu season. The vaccine is developed annually to include the four strains of the virus that research indicates will be most common that year.

Even with the vaccine, people may still catch another strain of the flu and experience symptoms.

“Sometimes things may shift and go otherwise after the vaccine is made,” Merkley said.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild-to-severe illness and occasionally leads to death. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches and fatigue. Some people report vomiting and diarrhea, but those symptoms are more common in children.

It is important to note that not everyone with the flu will have a fever, a health department press release said.

In addition to the vaccine, the health department suggests getting plenty of rest, eating a healthy diet and regularly washing your hands as some additional safeguards against the flu.

The vaccine clinics run daily from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. and will continue throughout flu season, which Merkley said can stretch into February or later. There will also be additional hours on Nov. 13, with the health department open from 4 to 6 p.m.

Most insurance plans and Medicare Part B cover flu vaccines as preventative health, and the health department will submit claims to patrons’ insurance companies. Insurance cards must be presented at the time of service. Those without insurance will still be able to receive the vaccine for about $8, Merkley said.

The Dubois County Health Department is located at 1187 S. St. Charles St. in Jasper, and can be reached at 812-481-7050.




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