Free flu shot clinic set

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 6, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Preaching preparedness as the 2006-2007 flu season peaks, the Dallas County Health Department will distribute approximately 2,500 flu shots during a free immunization clinic on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Northside Baptist Church in Selma.

Stacey Adams, the health department’s community development and outreach coordinator, said the free clinic is a partnership between the health department and local agencies to offer a valuable health service and “to exercise an emergency preparedness plan for mass vaccinations.”

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“This is the first time we’ve done a special clinic like this,” Adams said. “It’s a great way to get your flu shot and to help the community.

“We’re closer than we’ve ever been to the next (flu pandemic) and we want to encourage people to be prepared and have a plan in place.”

Adams said local agencies – which include the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Selma Police Department – will practice its emergency protocols in the event of a flu pandemic during the clinic.

Adams said Dallas County is one of two Alabama locales that are implementing a mass dispensing site exercise. The other is Baldwin County.

Since 2003, health professionals fear the continued spread of the avian flu virus poses a serious threat to human health.

The avian flu, also referred to as the H5N1 virus, has been reported across eastern Asia and is spread by migratory birds.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, avian flu raises concerns about potential human pandemic because it can be transmitted from birds to mammals and in some limited cases to humans.

Adams said there are currently no reported flu cases in Dallas County, citing flu season peaks from November to March in Alabama.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea and vomiting.

While the virus only lasts a few days in most cases, the flu can lead to pneumonia and breathing problems in adults and high fever and seizures in children.

Adams said the best way to prevent the flu is to get your flu shot annually.

Approved for use in people older than six months, the flu shot is an inactivated vaccine that is given via a needle, usually in the arm.

Adams suggests people wear loose clothing to receive their flu shots, which will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

“It will take you about 15 minutes to come through and get your flu shot,” Adams said.

Those unable to attend the clinic may opt for drive-thru flu shot service outside of Northside Baptist, Adams said.

For more information, call the Dallas County Health Department at (334) 874-2550.