LCHD to provide flu vaccines

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It may initially cause a little discomfort, but it can prevent more severe complications later and can even save lives.

The Lawrence County Health Department will sponsor an all-day walk-in clinic for flu vaccinations Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at its location at 2122 S. Eighth Street. No appointment is necessary.

Vaccinations are limited to three groups: Children between the ages of six months to 23 months, at-risk individuals of any age or anyone over 65. The cost is $10 per shot.

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Immunization Nurse, Mary Holtzapfel, emphasized the importance for people in these groups to get the flu shot.

"The very young, the very old or those with other chronic conditions are considerably more at risk than the general public," Holtzapfel said. "Because not only will they be more likely to catch the flu because of their immune status, but because they are significantly more likely to experience complications from the flu that can be very, very serious or deadly."

Vaccine shortages have made headlines here at home and nationwide. The lack of vaccine in this area has been due to increased demand, Holtzapfel said.

"When we first got in our flu supply, we got 1,400 doses for adults," she said. "We got 1,400 doses last year and I think I had 50 doses left by the time it expired June 30. This year, we gave 1,400 doses in two weeks and we had no assurance that we were going to get any more. There were long lines and people were frantic."

Holtzapfel said the department just received 350 more doses of adult vaccine, which in addition to the child vaccines, will help to meet the current demand.

Although flu shots next Thursday will not be available to the general public, those most at risk will be covered. The department is placing its highest priority on children between the ages of six to 23 months.

"We do have a good supply of pediatric vaccine which is highly recommended by the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health for any child between the ages of six months to 23 months, "Holtzapfel said.

"It's really important that these kids get the vaccine because they're the ones that are at most risk for complications from the fluŠ.We're just really not seeing kids coming out for that and we need to get that (message) out there and have kids take it because there is a lot of the vaccine available."

It should be noted that children under six months of age cannot receive the flu vaccine, Holtzapfel said.

For those thinking flu season is over, think again.

"It seems to be a late flu season," Holtzapfel said. "Last year, we had a really early flu season. This year, flu activity at this time is very sporadic and so it probably won't peak until mid January or February. So there's still plenty of time to get a flu shot."

For more information, or to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine at another time, contact the Lawrence County Health Department at 532-3962.