State flu shot clinics begin
By M.J. Ellington
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MONTGOMERY — Flu shot clinics begin this week in parts of North Alabama.
Lawrence County residents have an opportunity to roll up their sleeves this week. Clinic days will be in mid-October in Limestone County and the last week of the month in Morgan County.
"On average, 200,000 people are hospitalized and approximately 36,000 people die each year in the United States from complications associated with influenza," said state Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson.
He encouraged vaccinations for everyone from 6 months through adulthood, unless they have a medical reason.
Winkler Sims, immunization program supervisor at the Alabama Department of Public Health, said it is early in the season and Jefferson County is the only county so far with confirmed flu cases.
Sims said the state already has received about 500,000 doses of vaccine and more is on the way.
"As far as we know, there haven't been any issues with manufacturing this year, unlike the past three or four years, when there were shortages due to manufacturing problems," Sims said.
Lawrence County already has a full supply of flu vaccine and plans to spread vaccine protection early.
Residents may get vaccinated at Lawrence's shot clinics Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Health Department office at 13299 Alabama 157 in Moulton.
After Oct. 3, Lawrence will offer flu shots Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until all the vaccine is gone. Cost will be $5 per shot except for Medicare and full Medicaid recipients, for whom there is no charge.
In Limestone County, the Health Department will hold clinics Oct. 16-18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Health Department office, 310 Elm St. in Athens. The cost will be $2 per shot, except for Medicare and full Medicaid recipients, who do not have to pay. After Oct. 18, Limestone will offer vaccine to walk-ins as long as supplies last.
Although the Morgan County Health Department has some flu vaccine in stock, nursing supervisor Cravens Gibbs said the department will not hold shot clinics until all of the county's supply arrives.
Until then, Gibbs recommends that people call before they come for a flu shot to make sure there is vaccine in stock.
Morgan's clinics will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 25-26 at the Health Department, 510 Cherry St. in Decatur.
There is no charge for Medicare and full Medicaid recipients, but all others pay $5 per shot.
Flu season usually peaks in Alabama from late January through early March.
Who should not get a flu shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people in some groups to check with their doctor before being vaccinated. They include:
People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination previously
People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine
Children younger than 6 months
People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever, who should wait until their symptoms improve to get vaccinated.
For more information:
Call Lawrence County Health Department at 974-1141, Limestone County Health Department at 232-3200 and Morgan County Health Department at 353-7021.
Call the Alabama Department of Public Health toll free at (800) 469-4599.
The Alabama Department of Public Health Web site, www.adph.org/immunization, has a listing of county health department flu shot clinics and also private clinics around the state listed by zip code.
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