Flu vaccines available at county health department

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2004

It is not too late for Lawrence Countians to protect themselves against the flu virus that continues to spread across the United States.

The Lawrence County Health Department has 200 flu vaccine doses that will be administered for $10 each on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 1 p.m. Monday. The cost is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Influenza, what is commonly referred to as "the flu," is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

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An estimated 10 to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year. An average of 114,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications and 36,000 Americans die each year from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There was a tremendous demand when we got the last batch of vaccines in. People were lined up around the block," said Mary Jon Holtzapfel, immunization nurse at the Lawrence County Health Department.

"Even though this it is a little later than normal, it is not too late because the CDC is not convinced that the flu season has peaked."

It normally takes 10 days to two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, she said.

No county residents will be turned away while supplies last, but the health department would prefer to administer the vaccines to children from the ages of 6-months to 2-years-old, senior citizens over the age of 65 and anyone with chronic illnesses, Holtzapfel said.

As of Dec. 20, the flu was considered widespread in 45 states including Ohio, according to the CDC.

Area hospitals have reported a huge number of flu cases since the end of November, Holtzapfel said.

"Normally, October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but it is better to be safe than sorry," she said.

Symptoms of flu include fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Gastro-intestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, are much more common among children than adults, according to the CDC.