Free flu vaccines still available
Flu vaccination shots are still available locally as the Alabama Department of Public Health anticipates the number of influenza cases will peak in the state during January and February.
The ADPH provides free flu shots via county health departments throughout the state, and the shots were first available last October. No appointment is necessary to receive a shot, according to Kim Wooten, clinic nurse supervisor at the Franklin County Health Department.
"We've been trying to do this as people come in so they don't have to make an appointment," said Wooten, who estimated there were 40 doses remaining locally. "We were busy in October, but it's been sporadic up to this point."
Influenza, better known as the flu, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. People with influenza can potentially infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick.
Anyone can contract influenza, but children from 6 months to age 18 and people 50 years and older are especially susceptible. On average, 226,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized every year because of influenza and 36,000 cases are fatal, according to the CDC.
The CDC recommends an annual vaccination, which takes up to two weeks to develop after the shot and provides protection up to 12 months.
"In an attempt to get as many people vaccinated against influenza as possible, all county health departments in northwest Alabama are now giving flu vaccine free of charge to anyone who wants the vaccine," said Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer for Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Marion, Walker and Winston counties. "The vaccine appears to be a good match to the strains of flu circulating this flu season and getting a flu shot is the best way to ensure that you don't get the flu."
The FCHD, located at 801 Hwy. 48 in Russellville, is open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 332-2700 or visit www.cdc.gov/flu.