With winter weather heralding the onslaught of winter illness, flu shot clinics are becoming the events to attend.
Locally, the Clermont County Health District has already scheduled and held a number of clinics, but officials within the district are reminding citizens that, if you need a flu shot, you can still get them to protect yourself during flu season.
“People can continue getting flu shots right through December and be protected before the flu season arrives,” said Deena Elliott, director of nursing at the Clermont County Health District. “Many people are under the impression that you have to get it right now or else you won’t be protected, but you can wait until much later in the season before flu season actually gets here.”
But while waiting is possible, Elliott said that there is nothing wrong with getting your shots done early. The shots themselves, said Elliott, have become nothing if not safer, and generally result in no discomfort to the recipient.
“The Ohio Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control both have guidelines, but generally speaking, anyone over 50, anyone with chronic health problems, pregnant women and children age six to 59 months are at high risk of getting the flu and having complications from it,” said Elliott. “It’s considered a mild vaccine, so people may end up with a little bit of soreness in their arm. They may feel achy or have a low-grade fever for a few days. Most people don’t have any side effects at all.”
While the district has already completed its scheduled flu shot clinics, there could be more, said Elliott, depending on how many shots are left over and on if they can get any more.
“We have scheduled clinics,” said Elliott. “At this point, we don’t know how many additional clinics there will be. It depends on if we go through all of our vaccine. If we have some left over, or get more, we’ll set up additional dates. It may be clinics or appointments here at the office.”
Flu shots made the news a few years ago when a worldwide shortage led to rationing of the wintertime vaccines to only those in the most dire of need. Now, said Elliott, anybody can get them – and probably should – and the supply should meet the need.
“There will be enough this year, or so we have been told,” said Elliott. “It’s more a matter of when it will be distributed. We’ve received part of what we’ve ordered, and will receive more anytime.”
There is a $15 fee to get flu shots at the health district, and the shot is covered by Medicaid or Medicare part D. Other locations also offer shots, including some doctors offices and even some are retail outlets.
“Some large stores hold flu shot clinics, and then many doctor offices are supplying them this year,” Elliott said. “That’s not always the case. Sometime they can’t easily get the vaccine. Many are this year, though.”
Typically, some sort of identification, such as a driver’s license, is needed to receive a shot.