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Health Dept. offers flu shots

By By Janet Little Cooper
The wait for the much-anticipated flu shot is finally over for Alabama residents.
Escambia County Health Department has received more than 3,100 flu shots and is holding flu clinics in Atmore every Tuesday from now until the end of December.
"The Escambia County Health Department has over 3,100 flu shots and will be getting another 1,300 shots within the next week," Health Department Assistant Administrator PHA 9, Ricky Elliott said. "Anyone regardless of high risk factors can come in and get a flu shot in Alabama. The health department encourages all citizens to get a flu shot."
According to Elliott, the week after Thanksgiving has been designated as National Influenza Vaccination Week by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It is not too late for individuals to receive the flu vaccination," Elliott said. "Usually in Alabama influenza disease peaks in the months of January and February, so being vaccinated in December is not too late for protection from influenza."
That is good news for Alabama residents who have been waiting for the vaccine due to an increase in flu activity within Southeast Alabama.
"In the past two to three weeks the Alabama Department of Public Health has been seeing sustained regional influenza activity within two areas of the state, the Mobile-Baldwin county area and southeast Alabama," Elliott said.
Elliott said that anyone can get influenza but that there are things people can do to help protect himself or herself from the virus.
"Anyone can get influenza," Elliott said. "Individuals with chronic illnesses and pregnant women are at highest risk for complications from the flu. Some things people can to daily to prevent the flu is to wash your hands and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently, cover your sneeze, stay home if you are sick, know the symptoms of the flu, keep yourself fit, stay hydrated, get vaccinated and don't share utensils or drinks after others."
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.
Every year in the United States, on average five percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from flu.
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose may infect people as well. Alabama residents may receive their vaccine at the Escambia County Health Department every Tuesday, from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
The clinic will also be giving pneumonia shots as well.