Health Department gives free flu shots on Tuesday

Published 7:31 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The 2013-2014 influenza season has just begun and the Dallas County Health Department is working to make sure it isn’t severe locally.

The health department offered residents the chance to receive a free flu shot on Tuesday, regardless of whether or not he or she had health insurance. By 3 p.m., nurses had vaccinated more than 250 people. The health department will continue offering shots on Tuesdays until it runs out of vaccinations. Before making the trek to the department, on Moseley Drive, nurses suggested calling 334-877-2804 to check if vaccinations are available.

But just because some residents missed out doesn’t mean an annual influenza vaccination should be ignored.

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“It’s important to get a flu shot every year,” Registered Nurse Denice Clark said. “Once someone gets the flu once, they might change their mind about not getting the shot.”

Clark said shots usually become available in late September and continue being offered until June.

Flu shots are effective for one year.

“If you get a shot next June, it will be good until the following year,” she said.

“It doesn’t really matter too much whether you get the shot early or late, but the CDC does recommend getting it early.”

Flu season is most severe in Dallas County from the middle of November to January, she said.

Starting at the age of 6 months, children can begin receiving the shot.

Clark said that high-risk patients — those diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, or other serious illnesses — should be especially vigilant about receiving his or her monthly shot.

“They will end up a lot sicker than someone who is perfectly healthy,” Clark said.

But not everyone should get the vaccination. The CDC says that individuals with severe life-threatening allergies, including an allergy to eggs, should avoid the vaccination.

The flu is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact, according to the CDC. Common symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny or stuff nose.

Flu can also lead to pneumonia, make existing medical conditions worse and cause diarrhea and seizures in children, according to the CDC.